During the week of August 19, 2013, a team of agents, led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), raided placer mine sites in the Fortymile Mining District near Chicken, Alaska to investigate potential Clean Water Act violations.
Today the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing entitled, "EPA vs. American Mining Jobs: The Obama Administration's Regulatory Assault on the Economy." Alaskan Congressman Don Young, a senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee, invited Sheldon Maier, President of the Fortymile Mining Association to testify about his experiences with the EPA, and how the agency has impacted the lives of the miners he represents.
Mr. Maier shared stories from his members about the heavy hand of the federal government. "An EPA led crime task force with armed, fully-suited squads of 3-7 men entered 30 locations in the Fortymile without the courtesy of introducing themselves to the mine operators." Maier called these raids an "unacceptable show of force."
Also in attendance was Alaskan Linda Kile, whose family mining claim was subject to an EPA raid. In her testimony submitted for the record she explained that, "Over the years we've been visited by multiple regulatory agencies, all of whom arrived without prior notice, but all of whom sought us out, explained the reason for their visit and we proceeded from there. Our most recent visit by the EPA in no way resembled any of our previous encounters." For her entire testimony, click here.
In response to this unwarranted show of force by the EPA, Alaskan Congressman Don Young introduced H.R. 3281, a bill that would remove the EPA's criminal enforcement authority, instead relying upon the continued federal law enforcement capabilities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"The EPA led task force's invasion was an unnecessary intrusion into the lives of Alaskan miners, who want simply nothing more than to continue to practice the great Alaskan tradition of placer mining. The FBI already has the expertise and authority to investigate federal crimes, and H.R. 3281 would simply ensure that this authority is streamlined in one agency that specializes in law enforcement," said Rep. Young.