Three former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and one former secretary of the Interior took out a full page ad in The Washington Post Tuesday to oppose the Trump administration for considering a permit for a gold and copper mine in Alaska.
Former President Barack Obama’s administration pointed to a little used clause in the Clean Water Act to prevent Pebble Limited Partnership, the company wanting to build the mine, from applying for a permit on grounds it could cause “catastrophic” harm to the environment, The Washington Post reports.
The former EPA administrators are William D. Ruckelshaus, William K. Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman, who all served under Republican presidents. Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, who served under former President Bill Clinton, is the only cabinet member from a Democratic administration to join in the ad.
The area around the Pebble Mine Project contains an estimated $150 billion worth of gold. Streams flowing through the area feed eventually into Bristol Bay, which supports a $500 million a year fishing industry.
“The question of whether to build a massive open pit copper and gold mine in the heart of the planet’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery has a simple answer. The Pebble Mine is the wrong mine in absolutely the wrong place, and the answer is no,” the add reads.
GOP Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, began pushing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to review the Obama administration rejection on the mine starting in February.
“The Committee has determined that the preemptive action taken for the Pebble Mine Project was unprecedented under the Clean Water Act and was justified by a questionable scientific assessment that relied on predetermined conclusions developed by EPA officials,” Smith wrote in a February letter to Pruitt.
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