The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday it will conduct an extensive review of proposed major development projects in the Bristol Bay watershed.
That decision pleased both of Alaska's U.S. senators, Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski, who said they welcomed a scientific assessment of the risks and rewards of the world-class Pebble gold and copper prospect.
Foes of the mine didn't get what they wanted, which was a swift, pre-emptive EPA rejection of Pebble. Advocates of the mine and other projects didn't get what they wanted, either, which is essentially for the EPA to butt out.
That's not likely to happen, despite Rep. Don Young's efforts to strip the agency of a limited veto authority over Army Corps of Engineers permits, or Gov. Sean Parnell's opposition to EPA review.
The EPA should weigh in, with a clear-eyed analysis. Both senators said they want science to drive the decision on whether the mining project should proceed. Both know that politics and science will share the driving unless the science is so overwhelming on one side or the other that the political battle subsides.
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