When Cherry-Picking Backfires
This is kind of precious. So what happens when a village council in Alaska wants a mining project to go forward but the EPA report comes back pointing out the negative environmental consequences? The council goes out and hires their own expert to rebut the claims.
So they hired Dr. Donald Macalady, professor emeritus of chemistry and geochemistry at the Colorado School of Mines, and the school’s previous director of the Center for Environmental Risk for the job.
Only one problem, the good Dr’s own study predicted even more dire consequences.
Macalady’s report said the mine would likely eliminate the salmon spawning runs “in a large portion of the area’s watersheds,” and that this “elimination will be essentially irreversible.”
But here’s where it gets really good, the Village council president just assumed that their cherry picked expert from the School of Mines would naturally greenlight the project, so she sent his report to the EPA without reading it. So what does the village council do when they finally realize the study doesn’t say what they wanted it to say, ask for it back of course.
The Iliamna Village Council has asked to rescind an analysis it submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that backs up conclusions by the federal agency about the potentially negative impacts of large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay region.
Macalady’s review was accompanied by a letter from the village council president, Lorene Anelon, dated June 29, in which she expressed frustration with the EPA process.
Days later, she submitted a council resolution, dated July 2, rescinding the review and directing it not be made part of the official record as the council’s position. The resolution says the council “inadvertently” sent in written testimony signed by Anelon and that Anelon hired Macalady “without full authority of the Council” to submit testimony for the EPA comment period.
Sadly for Anelon and the corrupt village council, the EPA called “no take backs.”
The comments were among the thousands submitted on the EPA assessment that can be read online. The EPA, in a statement Tuesday, said comments made to the public comment docket cannot be retrieved once submitted. Policy dictates that to make changes, people must submit another comment referring to their previous comment correcting any errors and/or re-stating their position or opinion, EPA said.
Though not relevant to the story, rumor has it the EPA also called “shotgun” and “not it.” Then just for lulz:
June 30 was the deadline for comments on the EPA’s revised assessment, which found construction of a large-scale mine near the headwaters of a world-premier salmon fishery could have major impacts on streams and wetlands even without a mishap. A final report is expected later this year and could affect permitting decisions for the proposed Pebble Mine project.
So not only did the futile attempted retraction come too late, the council ran out of time to send in any revision to their comments. They have to live with the Macalady’s report being their only scientific input.
Too bad, so sad. It’s getting to the point where you can’t reliably trust industry shills to shill for industry. Illustrating this I’ll just close with one more section from Macalady’s report:
Macalady, in his review, said build-out from the mine “will change forever the cultural and social environment of the region. Additional development is a possibility, but it is difficult to imagine what would be the economic basis for this development. Fisheries will probably be gone, sporting activities that are attractive to wilderness lovers will be very limited due to mining damages to the landscape. Economic survival in the post-mining environment could be much more difficult than it is at present.”