Sen. Murkowski Comments on Final Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment

Latest EPA Report Suggests Additional Overreach on the Way in Alaska

January 15, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today responded to the Environmental Protection Agency’s release of the final watershed assessment of state-owned lands in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region: 

“EPA’s assessment stops short of prohibiting responsible development in the Bristol Bay watershed, but the agency has strongly implied that this report will be a basis to preemptively veto economic opportunities in the region in the future,” Murkowski said. “I remain convinced that a preemptive veto of a mine or any other project, which the agency claims it can do under the Clean Water Act, would set a terrible precedent for development in our state and across the nation.”

Murkowski has continually criticized EPA for conducting the assessment based on a hypothetical mine, before any plan or permit application has been filed with the agency.

“If the EPA has concerns about the impact of a project there is an appropriate time to raise them – after a permit application has been made, not before. It is clear that a preemptive veto is still being considered by EPA. Such a veto is quite simply outside the legal authority that Congress intended to provide EPA,” Murkowski said.

Murkowski has twice written to EPA (Feb. 16, 2011 and April 18, 2012) about her concerns with the agency’s Bristol Bay watershed assessment, including whether a decision by the agency to block a large-scale mining operation could set a legal precedent that would prevent other development proposals. EPA responded on Mar. 21, 2011, and May 17, 2012.