EPA Conducted a Methodical Review of Pebble Mine Project, NRDC Analysis Finds

WASHINGTON (November 4, 2015) – An October 6 report signed by former Defense Secretary William Cohen that questioned the Environmental Protection Agency’s conduct in reviewing the Pebble Mine mineral exploration project is riddled with specious arguments and misstatements, an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council said today.  NRDC concludes the Cohen report is neither reliable nor persuasive, and should be ignored.

NRDC submitted its analysis to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology in advance of Thursday morning’s hearing on Cohen’s report.  His report was paid for by the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP), the firm seeking to build a massive gold mine at the headwaters of the pristine Bristol Bay in Alaska.

NRDC’s review was co-authored by senior attorney Joel R. Reynolds, NRDC’s western director, and Taryn Kiekow Heimer, senior policy analyst.  It concludes:


  • EPA actually carried out “a methodical scientific review” over a period of four years, highlighted by “extraordinarily comprehensive” public participation;  
  • Cohen’s arguments that EPA had acted prematurely and treated PLP unfairly are “unreliable” and biased, because his paying client has a direct financial stake in the study;
  • Cohen’s report “confuses lower-level staff advocacy within an agency early on in the decision-making process with the final decision made by the upper level agency managers with the benefit of a comprehensive and transparent public process”;
  • Cohen “also conflates the policy making process … with the scientific review process”; and,
  • Cohen’s report “contributes nothing to the proceedings … in Bristol Bay beyond the arguments previous articulated on numerous occasions by PLP itself and its consultants. Under these circumstances, it should unquestionably be ignored.”

For more on NRDC’s analysis see Joel Reynolds’ blog: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jreynolds/nrdc_responds_to_pebbles_cohen.html