The Obama Administration, frustrated by its inability to work with Congress, decided to enact its view of how things ought to be by executive order and lawless rule changes deep within federal agencies such as the EPA.
The result is a dangerous precedent. There’s no better place to witness it than by watching what is happening in Alaska.
The EPA issued a proposed rule earlier this month designed to limit — if not outright stop — mining activity in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.
The proposed mine is a big one. Called the Pebble Mine, the Canadian-based company of Northern Dynasty Minerals says it will create 1,000 direct jobs and generate up to $180 million in state revenue.
A good number of Alaskans are for the mine, but it’s not without controversy. Environmentalists and others fear it will effect the area’s salmon breeding grounds.
But here’s the rub. Northern Dynasty Minerals has not even filed a permit application yet. The EPA has stepped in and issued a proposed rule to stop the mine without any science to back it up. It’s just a guess based on the bias against mining that comes from the White House down through the true-believer environmentalists that inhabit the bowels of the EPA.
The mine’s CEO noted, “It is further disappointing when you consider that many of the peer reviewers of the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment noted that the Assessment – the only ‘science’ EPA has to justify its action – was not a sufficient basis to support any regulatory decision.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a federal government run amok.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) calls the EPA’s move a “preemptive veto.” She adds: “The EPA is being disingenuous in saying that this decision is only going to impact mining in a particular area of Alaska. The EPA is setting a precedent that strips Alaska and all Alaskans of the ability to make decisions on how to develop a healthy economy on their lands. This is a blueprint that will be used across the county to stop economic development.”
And that is what ought to worry other Western states. In Nevada, for example, it is not inconceivable that the EPA could shut down future mining across the northern part of the state using the grounds that mining adversely effects the habitat of the Sage Grouse.
Congress makes the laws. The president is supposed to carry out the laws faithfully — not make up administrative rules designed to have the opposite effect. That is not to belittle the tension that often exists between environmentalists and developers. But there is a lawful way to referee that tension. What the Obama Administration in engaged in right now is not lawful and pretty damn scary.