Though President Obama has repeatedly urged that science guide environmental decisions, regulators inside the Environmental Protection Agency secretly worked with tribal and environmental activists to preempt a full review of an Alaskan mine and veto the project before the owners' permits could be considered, internal memos show.
Charged with being neutral arbiters, EPA officials instead began advocating for a preemptive veto of the Pebble Mine project in western Alaska as early as 2008, long before any scientific studies were conducted or the permit applications for the project were even filed, the emails obtained by The Washington Times show.
"As you know I feel that both of these projects (Chuitna and Pebble) merit consideration of a 404C veto," EPA official Phillip North wrote in an email suggesting that the mining project's rejection be added to the agenda of an agency retreat in summer 2009.
EPA wouldn't even announce the beginning of a scientific review of Pebble Mine until 2011, two years after Mr. North's email, but discussion of a pre-emptive veto dominated internal discussions inside the agency for much of the three years beforehand.
At the same time, EPA officials had regular contacts with potential opponents of the mining project, coordinating activities with environmentalists and even coaching local tribes on how they could strengthen their case opposing the project.
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