Pebble, EPA on the Hill in two hearings this week

Jun 22, 2016

Pebble CEO Tom Collier and Nunamta Aulukestai’s Kim Williams will speak at House committee on NEPA’s role in permitting process.

Credit Pebble Limited Partnership

Pebble Mine and the EPA efforts to protect Bristol Bay will be taken up in two separate committee hearings Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

The House Committee on Natural Resources is holding a hearing regarding the role of NEPA in the permitting process.

Witnesses called to the Natural Resources hearing include Pebble CEO Tom Collier and Nunamta Aulukestai Executive Director Kim Williams. The hearing had been scheduled for May, but according to Williams, Congressman Don Young, who is on the committee, had lobbied to reschedule it till the fall. The hearing ended up being scheduled for June. Williams said she has one message to express right off the bat.

"[They're] holding this at the most terrible time of the year for Bristol Bay," Williams said. "The voices of Bristol Bay are... silent because we’re busy trying to do all the things we do in the summer. That’s really unfortunate for our region."

Pebble alleges EPA has circumvented the NEPA process by developing wastewater discharge restrictions before a permit has been applied for or an environmental impact statement submitted. Williams says she’ll offer an opposing perspective at the meeting.

"Pebble has always made the case that ‘hey, you know, we want to go through this rigorous NEPA process,’" Williams said. "The people of Bristol bay can’t trigger the NEPA process, the only people who can do that is Pebble, and they need to file their application. We’ve heard year after year after year that they’re going to file and they never do."

Separately, the House Science Committee called EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to testify on a range of topics related to the agency’s regulatory agenda. The House Science Committee, chaired by Republican Lamar Smith from Texas, has held several hearings over the past year related to the EPA’s work to block the Pebble Mine.