The Environmental Protection Agency is coming under increased scrutiny over accusations that it rigged its own review process to block the Pebble Mine project in Alaska.
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee is scheduled to weigh in Thursday with a hearing on whether EPA officials orchestrated an environmental assessment in concert with anti-mine groups to reach a predetermined outcome.
Exhibit A is an explosive Oct. 6 report by the Cohen Group, headed by former Defense Secretary William Cohen, which cited the EPA’s “unprecedented” evaluation process, including its decision to use procedures under the Clean Water Act instead of the National Environmental Policy Act to assess the project.
The 346-page report, commissioned by the Pebble Limited Partnership, the project’s developer, also said that the statements and actions of EPA officials raised “serious concerns” about theagency’s objectivity and transparency.
“This project is too important, for all stakeholders, to pilot a new, untested decision-making process,” said Mr. Cohen in the report. “The fairest approach is to use the well-established Permit/NEPA Process, and I can find no valid reason why that process was not used.”
Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican and committee chairman, said this week that the agency’s behavior on thePebble Mine project “demonstrates how the EPA is truly out of control.”
“Secretary Cohen’s report lays out evidence that shows collusion and a cozy relationship between the EPA and groups actively opposed to the Pebble Mine,” said Mr. Smith. “These relationships could inappropriately influence EPA’s ability to conduct policy based on sound science.”