Anti-Pebble Mine group snatches up former Obama admin. officials

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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A newly launched group by onetime Obama campaign advisers have recently snatched up former administration officials to work on various energy and environment campaigns, including one opposing Alaska’s Pebble Mine.

The Smoot Tewes Group — founded by former Obama senior campaign aides Juliana Smoot and Paul Tewes — has snatched up former Energy Department public affairs director Dan Leistikow as well as two former White House liaisons to the Environmental Protection Agency, reports Politico.

Leistikow recently left the Energy Department after working there for four and one-half years, serving under former Sec. Steven Chu as well as Sec. Ernest Moniz. According to the Detroit News, Leistikow oversaw the Energy Department’s rapid responses for many issues, including the BP oil spill and failed green energy loans.

Smoot Tewes Group is already working on several energy and global warming campaigns, according to Politico, including one opposing the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The mine has become a political target for environmentalists who want to see the EPA halt the operation before any plans have been put forward or a permit has even been sought.

“This is a prime example of the revolving door between this administration and the environmental left,” a Republican Senate aide told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Putting all of America’s natural resources completely off limits and killing the jobs that come with them seems to be their number one goal.”

Republicans and pro-mining groups have been facing off against the EPA for many months now, wrangling over the limits of the Obama administration’s authority when it comes to denying water pollution permits under federal law.

“This is a prime example of why the economy isn’t recovering. EPA and their far-left environmental allies are using unprecedented tactics to shut down potential projects and corresponding jobs before they’ve even begun the permitting process,” said Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The EPA claims that it has the authority to preemptively veto a water pollution permit for the Pebble Mine. However, the agency has not evaluated any actual plans for the mine, choosing instead to evaluate a hypothetical mine.

Mine supporters argue that the EPA lacks the authority to preemptively veto the mine before actual plans have been put forward. Meanwhile, environmentalists have been pushing the agency to exercise their veto power.

“Earthworks urges the EPA and Administrator McCarthy to use their legal authority under the Clean Water Act to halt development of the mine,” said Jennifer Krill , executive director of Earthworks. “According to the EPA’s own scientific assessment, development of the mine would destroy more than 90 miles of salmon spawning streams, thousands of acres of wetlands, and the livelihoods that depend on these vital natural resources.”

The fate of the mining project continues to sit in limbo as the EPA decides whether or not to veto the project. Recently, one of the corporations partnered to operate the mine, Anglo American, withdrew from the project, citing their goal of minimizing risk and maximizing high-value investments.

“Our focus has been to prioritise capital to projects with the highest value and lowest risks within our portfolio, and reduce the capital required to sustain such projects during the pre-approval phases of development as part of a more effective, value-driven capital allocation model,” Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani said in a statement.

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