After a week of internal review into reports of intimidation and needless show of force by federal and state officials, Governor Sean Parnell has ordered an investigation into the practices of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) Environmental Crimes Unit and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Criminal Investigations Division. The review comes after the governor learned that a state DEC investigator joined seven enforcement officers from the EPA and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to investigate placer miners in the Fortymile River area near Chicken. The agents, armed and wearing body armor, claimed they were looking for violations of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. No arrests were made and no citations were issued.
"With a mere last minute notification to our DEC commissioner, Alaska's attorney general, and the Department of Public Safety, the EPA, BLM and a DEC investigator took it upon themselves to swoop in on unsuspecting miners in remote Alaska," Governor Parnell said. "This level of intrusion and intimidation of Alaskans is absolutely unacceptable. I will not tolerate any state agency's participation in this sort of reckless conduct. There are many unanswered questions and I will seek a special counsel to get to the bottom of this matter and work to ensure it never happens again."
Governor Parnell also called on EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to review and reevaluate how her agency handles Clean Water Act investigations. He also encouraged her to join the State of Alaska in ensuring the use of needless show of force tactics never happens again in Alaska.