WASHINGTON- U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt asking him to rescind the 2014 decision to preemptively use Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to limit the scope of  the development of the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska before any permit applications were submitted for the project.

“The Committee recommends that the incoming Administration rescind the EPA’s proposed determination to use Section 404(c) in a preemptive fashion for the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska.  This simple action will allow a return to the long-established Clean Water Act permitting process and stop attempts by the EPA to improperly expand its authority.  Moreover, it will create regulatory certainty for future development projects that will create jobs and contribute to the American economy,” the letter states.

Through rigorous oversight including hearings, document reviews, interviews, and depositions, the committee determined that the preemptive action for the Pebble Mine was unprecedented under the Clean Water Act. This action was justified by a questionable scientific assessment that relied on predetermined conclusions developed by EPA officials. The committee also learned EPA employees colluded with Pebble Mine opponents to stop this project.

Today’s letter can be found here.


In April 2016 the Committee held a hearing to examine EPA’s predetermined efforts to block the Pebble Mine.

In November 2015 the Committee held its initial hearing to examine EPA’s predetermined efforts to block the Pebble Mine.

In October 2015 Chairman Smith sent a letter to then EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy questioning EPA’s apparent pre-determined conclusion to block the Pebble Mine before any science-based reports were produced or any formal permit applications were submitted.

In August 2013 the Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing to examine potential overreach by the EPA in conducting a draft watershed assessment for the Bristol Bay area based on a hypothetical mining scenario.