Murkowski presses EPA administrator on Pebble Mine, oil and gas exploration

Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2011

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has questioned Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on a series of development projects in Alaska, including efforts concerning the proposed Pebble Mine and oil and gas exploration in the Beaufort Sea and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

Murkowski pressed Jackson in her opening statement at Wednesday’s Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the EPA’s 2012 budget proposal.

Among her concerns was the EPA’s watershed assessment in Bristol Bay. “This assessment is in response to a petition from the environmental community to block the proposed Pebble Mine under the Clean Water Act” Murkowski said. “This is a controversial and very complex issue. I have not taken a position on the mining project itself because I believe it is premature to do so before the company has even submitted a permit application. For this same reason, the EPA should be completely transparent in conducting this watershed assessment — not simply use it as cover to support a later decision to veto the mine. At a minimum, the process that you use should comply with the Administrative Procedures Act, provide for peer review of the scientific and economic analysis, and solicit input from all affected stakeholders.”

Other concerns in Murkowski’s statement included the EPA’s air permit rejections for Shell Oil in the Beaufort Sea and an Aquatic Resource of National Importance designation over construction of a bridge on the Colville River for a CD-5 project by ConocoPhillips.

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