In a letter sent today to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Investigations and Oversight Chairman Paul Broun (R-GA) asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson a series of questions about the Draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (DBBWA), which is based on a hypothetical mine scenario, and the accompanying Final Peer Review Report. Chairman Broun expressed the concern that EPA is attempting to create a new mechanism to prevent mining, despite the fact that state, local, and federal regulations already exist.
In the letter, Chairman Broun asked why "EPA staff declined to provide a date or timeframe as to when [the Agency] would respond to the [Final Peer Review Report's] comments, nor when it would finalize the DBBWA." Chairman Broun also questioned EPA for being "unable to provide a basic answer to the question of how much money the agency spent on producing the draft watershed assessment."
The letter further asks Administrator Jackson to explain EPA's decision to "convene a group of qualified experts to review the revised draft assessment in light of the issues raised by the peer reviewers."
"It doesn't make sense," Chairman Broun stated. "During these trying fiscal times, the EPA is spending an undisclosed sum of money on a report that is needlessly based on a hypothetical mine scenario. Regardless of how EPA responds to the issues raised by the peer reviewers in their report, unless EPA waits for an actual, real-world mine application for the Bristol Bay area, all future assessments will suffer from the same fundamental flaw."
"Unfortunately, it appears as though EPA is happy to continue spending scarce resources on an assessment of questionable value, all in order to create additional, unnecessary, and duplicative regulatory burdens," Chairman Broun concluded.