Pat Pitsch wrote May 31 that we shouldn't build a mine in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. I agree that we should protect Alaska's salmon runs and support Washington state's commercial fisherman. But now is the wrong time for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make any decisions.
Big construction projects like the Pebble cannot proceed unless they first survive years of review under the National Environmental Policy Act, which has been the law of the land for over 40 years. The process starts with a permit application, but the developers of the Pebble mine haven't completed one yet. So I believe environmental activists pressured the EPA into inventing a hypothetical mine, which assumed the use of 100-year-old technology and no environmental safeguards. Conveniently for the activists, this made-up scenario predicted some pretty bad outcomes.
This project should not be blocked because of a bogus hypothetical report, when a real set of engineering and environmental plans will be subjected to years of review. If that review finds fish or jobs will be threatened by the mine, regulators will reject the project. But if Pebble proves it can protect the environment, the nation will get roughly 16,000 jobs from the mine, according to a recent study, in addition to commercial fishing jobs. We should protect the environment, but Americans also needs as many jobs as we can create.