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Washington Needs to Hear From You!

Contact your elected Representatives in Washington and let them know that you support the U.S. Mining Industry.

Make your voice and support of the mining industry heard. Help us deliver the message that a strong mining industry is vitally important to America, that jobs all across the country depend on mining, and that today's regulations and modern technology ensure state-of-the-art environmental protection at U.S. mines. You can provide policy makers with first-hand information about the technological advancements and environmental stewardship of today's mining industry.

ACTION ALERT!

Help Stop the Federal Land Grab

 

The minerals mining industry plays a critical role in our nation by providing the materials needed for progressive technologies, medicine and security. From wind turbines to fighter jets to the electronic device you are reading this email on, American minerals are part of the equation. 
But access to these vital minerals is being threatened by a federal land grab.

For more information and to comment: http://mineralsmakelife.org/take-action?vvsrc=%2fCampaigns%2f43981%2fRespond

The Time is NOW to Comment on EPA's 404c Actions in Bristol Bay Alaska

On July 18, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Proposed Determination Pursuant to Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act on the Pebble Deposit Area. The agency's intention is to preemptively place restrictions on development of a mine at Pebble, however, they are effectively a veto of a mine at Pebble. EPA has opened a 60-day comment period soliciting input on the Proposed Determination, with written comments being accepted through September 19, 2014. Please take the time to let EPA know their actions are inappropriate and the agency should not perform any actions relating to the Pebble Project until a mine plan is presented.

Remember: Participate in the public meetings and submit comments by September 19

Background:
In 2010, the EPA was petitioned to use its authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to preemptively veto any dredge or fill permits in wetlands associated with mining and the Pebble Project in Southwest Alaska. Tribes closer to the project asked EPA to refrain from such action until a formal permit application has been submitted and the permitting process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) initiated. Having never used its authority preemptively, the EPA decided instead to conduct a watershed assessment to help "inform its decision" on the issue. The EPA study began in February 2011, and completed the assessment on an area the size of West Virginia in less than one year. Previous watershed assessments conducted on smaller areas have taken years to complete.

The CWA does give the EPA authority to veto other agencies' approval of permits, however, it is unprecedented that the EPA would administer this authority in advance of any permit application. Moreover, the agency has rarely used its veto authority and never in advance of permits being issued by other agencies.

The proposed determination is not based on actual mine plans. It focuses on the effects of a mining project that has not been proposed, and for which key engineering solutions, environmental safeguards, and mitigation measures have not been provided. This is a deeply flawed, speculative approach.
The proposed determination describes the following far-reaching and arbitrary limitations:
* Loss of streams: The loss of five or more miles of streams with documented salmon occurrence (coho, Chinook, sockeye, chum, pink); or the loss of 19 or more miles of streams where salmon are not documented, but that are tributaries of streams with documented salmon occurrence.
* Loss of wetlands, lakes, and ponds: The loss of 1,100 or more acres of wetlands, lakes, and ponds that connect with streams with documented salmon occurrence or tributaries of those streams.
* Streamflow alterations: Streamflow alterations greater than 20 percent of daily flow in nine or more linear miles of streams with documented salmon occurrence

The EPA's use of "any or all" of the above limitations indicates that any one of the limitations could halt a project, whether it be a community or industry project.

The State of Alaska, and Native village and tribal organizations in the area have opposed the EPA's actions until there is a formal permit application to properly evaluate the project, and a thorough environmental impact statement is completed. The public comment period will run through 8:00 p.m. September 19, 2014.

A copy of the proposed determination is available online at: http://www2.epa.gov/bristolbay

Action Requested:
Submit comments online: Reference Docket ID No. EPA-R10-PW-2014-0505: http://www.regulations.gov
Send an email to: ow-docket@epa.gov, include Docket #EPA-R10-PW-2014-0505 in the subject line.
Mail to: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 2822T, Attn.: Docket ID No. EPA-R10-PW-2014-0505, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20460

Points to consider in your testimony and comments:
A preemptive decision, prior to permit or project application and completion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, is unacceptable, whether it be approval or denial of any project in any industry.

The proposed determination ignores existing processes, undermining existing agency responsibilities on both the state and federal level. Further, the EPA does not have the authority under the Clean Water Act to preemptively block development.

Any potential 404(c) actions against the Pebble Project are premature. The project has not yet been finalized and no permit applications - including detailed plans and environmental mitigation strategies - have been submitted to government agencies, nor has the NEPA process been initiated. As a result, the current assessment and any preemptive action would deprive government agencies and stakeholders of the specific information, science, and rigorous reviews that would come out of the multi-year NEPA process.

Every project, no matter the size or location, should have an opportunity to be reviewed under existing legal processes. In the case of mining, there are more than 60 major permits and hundreds more from local, state, and federal agencies that must be successfully obtained. If the process determines a project as designed cannot protect the environment and other resources, it will not advance. The process will not permit one industry or resource to advance at the expense of another.

Any 404(c) action outside the existing permitting process would be an extreme case of federal overreach and an assault on Alaska sovereignty. The Pebble mineral deposit is not located on federal land, nor inside a refuge or park. It is located on state land designated for mineral exploration. The State of Alaska depends on the responsible development of natural resources on its lands to diversify and support its economy.

Until an application is filed describing the project in detail and an Environmental Impact Statement is completed, the EPA is prematurely determining adverse impacts based on hypothetical assessments and inapplicable modeling.

The proposed determination and potential actions would undermine existing regulatory processes and set a dangerous precedent for future projects. If the EPA preemptively stops projects before they enter the permitting process, any large project could be at risk. Preemptive action by the EPA could become a new tool opponents use to stop projects, or at a minimum, introduce significant uncertainty and delay, chilling Alaska's business climate.

The comment period should be extended to adequately allow for public review of the document. The 60-day comment period in place is insufficient and should be extended by at least 60-days to allow commenters ample time to provide feedback.

 

Action Organizations

Several organizations actively support mining in Washington. Visit the Web sites below to see the latest about issues affecting the industry.

National Mining Association - See the latest Mining Week newsletter containing important information about current issues.

Minerals Make Life is a new initiative by the National Mining Association to "demonstrate minerals’ importance to the nation" for public outreach and education about minerals.

Northwest Mining Association is very active in the policy arena and has an issues page related to hardrock mining issues.

The More You Dig is a new iniative by the Northwest Mining Association that targets 20-35-year-olds with information about how important minerals are in everyday life.

Western Business Roundtable has comprehensive information on hardrock and coal mining, as well as water and energy-related topics.