Background: In response to requests, the U.S. EPA has undertaken to review the Pebble Mine. They are apparently acting in terms of the Clean Water Act, although many dispute their authority to do so. The review is taking place before any formal submittals have been made by Anglo America, and many claim that Anglo should at least be granted due process.
Current Status: As I understand it, the EPA’s report was due out this week. But it has been delayed. A peer review panel of so-called independent people has been appointed. We have not been told their names. They sit in silence and await their call to judgement. As we sit in silence and await their names and the EPA report.
Speculation 1: The EPA says the mine will have no impact. The peer reviewers agree and Obama is elected again.
Speculation 2: The EPA says the mine will harm the environment, the peer reviewers disagree. Obama is accused of killing jobs and Romney wins and his wife goes to consort with miners like her ancestors.
Speculation 3: The EPA says the mine should not proceed. The peer reviewers agree. We hear screams of liberal academics who have never designed a mine, worked a mine, or closed a mine. The peer reviewers are excoriated for lack of real-life qualifications and dumped into the same bin as a renegade EPA. It is an even fight at the presidential elections, and who knows who will win, for the real issue are the economy and gay marriage. And imposing (?un?)Christian values like lack of respect and denial of freedom on others. March into the bedroom. Get that right and they will bow to the alter.
Speculation 4. Cynthia Carroll stands by her word–she said the mine would not proceed in the absence of lots of local support. She agrees with the EPA and the un-named peer reviewers and the mine is dead or alive as the findings go.
Speculation 5. Anglo decides this is all too much. They decide to go back to South Africa and leave Alaska to the savages. They sell the deposit to the Chinese and all hell breaks loose. Or they sell to one of those Alaskan Indian corporations and more hell breaks loose.
OK. Maybe all these speculations are ridiculous. Reason, logic, and civility will prevail. But I doubt it. This is a situation made to order for presidential election-year politics. Kill a pipeline to get money to flow. Kill a mine to get support. Makes sense.
On the other hand Republicans are no doubt salivating. Write letters, post posts, attack academic, unqualified peer reviewers who concur with the EPA, and make yet another case that Obama and Democrats are anti-mining, anti-work-opportunities—you have heard it all before and will hear it again.
As one potential peer reviewer told me: It is a hell-of-an assignment, but it will be fascinating to see how the politics play out. What a terrible reason for agreeing to serve on a panel charged with potentially electing a president: mere curiosity, not commitment to professionalism.
In full disclosure, somebody asked me to get involved. Afterall, I have written more than most on mining and tailings (1,500 blog postings and my new course on EduMine on Tailings.) I refused as then I could not blog about it. How is that for putting punditry ahead of profit?