Unfortunately, that did not happen.
The draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report is a fundamentally flawed document that reflects more on the state of politics and advocacy surrounding Pebble than on science. And that is a terrible shame.
We are hopeful that the final report will present a more objective and informed view. If not, the EPA will only have succeeded in fanning the flames of controversy surrounding Pebble, exacerbating a dynamic that has pitted individual families, communities and industries against one another.
Why do we believe the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment is flawed? Principally because it is premature.By the EPA's own admission, it has evaluated the effects of a 'hypothetical project' - a project that has not been defined and for which key environmental mitigation strategies are not known. You don't have to be a scientist to understand that you cannot assess the effects of what you don't know. That is why every natural resource project in this country is assessed by federal and state regulators after a proponent has finalized its studies and applied for a permit. The Pebble Project should be treated no differently. The Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment is flawed because it was rushed. The Pebble Partnership has invested some $150 million over eight years to study the ecological and social environment surrounding Pebble. Not only has the EPA spent a small fraction of the time and effort to study a much larger area - 20,000 square miles. They also failed to fully consider the data that the Pebble Partnership provided as part of its 27,000-page Environmental Baseline Document. The EPA has said that information, provided to them last December, came too late to bear their full consideration. We believe it is wrong, and flies in the face of objective scientific enquiry to reject what is indisputably the best data set available on this region because of political expediency.
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