A U.S. House committee on Wednesday urged the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency to reverse the agency’s plans to limit development at the proposed Pebble project in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chair of the House Science Committee, charged the agency with overstepping its statutory authority under President Barack Obama.
The committee has held hearings and conducted investigations into the EPA scientists involved in the scientific assessment that was the basis for the agency’s decision. The agency’s final action is on hold during a related court case.
The Pebble project has the potential to be one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines. But the deposit sits at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, a spawning site for some of Alaska’s most prized salmon fisheries.
The project has been the subject of controversy for more than a decade, and the Pebble Limited Partnership, owned by Northern Dynasty Minerals, has not yet applied for a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. The EPA could effectively “veto” an Army Corps permit.