Environmental Protection Agency

Zealots at the EPA

Creating environmental rules that defeat even environmentalists


The government's environmental rules defeat even environmentalists. 

Thomas Collier is a Democrat who managed environmental policy for Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Then he noticed a mining opportunity in Alaska, one he calls "the single largest deposit of gold and silver that is not being developed in the entire world." 

Tom's company hired hundreds of people to study the Pebble Mine's potential environmental impact, a first step before asking the Environmental Protection Agency for permission to dig. Usually, the EPA analyzes a company's study, then does its own research, then rules. But in this case, the EPA did something odd—it rejected the mine before Pebble even got its application in. 

That's never happened before, says Collier.

So why would the EPA do that? It's simple: the agency has been captured by environmental zealots. 

One of the world's biggest environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council, opposed the mine. The NRDC doesn't do science well—it employs mostly lawyers, not scientists—but the lawyers are good at raising money by scaring people about supposed environmental "disasters" like mines. 

"The things that NRDC is talking about are from an age far in the past," says Tom Collier. "Now you can build a safe mine." 

He points out that two big mines "sit right on the edge of the Fraser River … the second largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world… No problem with the salmon." 

To arouse public opposition to the Pebble Mine, the NRDC funded TV ads that claim the mine will mean a "natural paradise (is) destroyed by a 2,000-foot gaping hole." The mining company will build "huge earthen dams up to 50 stories tall, holding back billions of tons of mining waste." That sounds frightening, because the NRDC doesn't mention that the "waste" is sand—not some poisonous chemical. 

Actor Robert Redford lent his voice to the ad, claiming, "The EPA has confirmed that the Pebble Mine, a massive gold and copper mine, would devastate Bristol Bay." After watching that ad, I thought the proposed mine must be right next to Bristol Bay, but it turns out that the Bay is 90 miles away. 

It also turns out that some NRDC activists now work for the EPA, and although activists aren't supposed to get involved in issues pushed by the agency, they do it anyway. The NRDC's Nancy Stoner became an EPA regulator. Then she wrote her former colleagues, "I am not supposed to set up meetings with NRDC staff," referring to a pledge she signed not to participate in any matters directly involving her former employer. Then she got around these restrictions by qualifying that she could attend such a meeting if "there are enough others in attendance." 

Isn't that revealing? It's the evil private-public "revolving door" that activists usually complain about. Stoner later left the EPA to work for still another environmental group. 

She didn't respond to my questions, so I asked NRDC spokesman Bob Deans about his group "colluding with regulators" to shut down a mine. He smoothly replied, "NRDC is a source of expertise, and sometimes government takes advantage of that." 

It sure does. 

I asked Deans, "Are there some mines you don't complain about?" 

He said, "Sure." But when I asked him to name "any mines" that NRDC "doesn't oppose," he failed to come up with any. 

"NIMBY" used to be the anti-economic-growth refrain. Luddites shouted, "Not in my backyard!" Now, watching bureaucrats stop projects such as the Keystone oil pipeline and the Pebble Mine, it's clear that the phrase has become "BANANA": "Build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone!" 

I wish activists would personally experience the economic devastation that occurs when they block every project that might have a slight impact on nature. 

Alaskans who still live near the Pebble Mine site say the activists killed their dreams. "The environmental groups," said Lisa Reimers, "made people believe on TV that everything was going to die." 

When Pebble ramped up, Reimers' company employed 215 people. Only six remain. "You see your people struggling and you have to let them go," Reimers told us. "There are no jobs here, and they're angry at you because they think it's your fault." 

Propaganda is what the NRDC produces. It shouldn't be the basis for EPA policy. These days, too often, it is—because activists and regulators collude. 


NEXT: The 'Rand Paul is Over' Wave is Cresting

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  1. *I wish activists would personally experience the economic devastation that occurs when they block every project that might have a slight impact on nature.*

    Diffused cost means they do experience the economic devastation on some level. The world is improved by men much better than they are which means they must will themselves to ignore reality. I mean really, FDR in the top three presidents?

    1. He was our only president who had the foresight to create concentration camps based on race a new creative policy unheard of in the 1940’s. Doesn’t that count for anything?

      1. I guess you’ve never heard of the Trail of Tears.

        1. Weren’t those guys another nation’s people at that point in time? My history is a little fuzzy on when exactly the trail of tears happened, but I thought the Indians were still non-citizens at that point.

          1. As a Mestizo one would think I’d hold a grudge over what was done to my Native American ancestors. I don’t. What I do hold a grudge over is Prog FDR seizing the property of Americans of Japanese ancestry and throwing them in concentration camps. I also despise the fact that even despite all the other fascist actions taken by FDR he remains a hero to the left. Where he stood speaks volumes about where they stand.

        2. I think since the trail of tears was mobile it doesn’t count. I believe the forced relocations lacked barbed wire and other FDR innovations. Don’t get me wrong Jackson was a visionary when it came to assholery.

  2. I asked Deans, “Are there some mines you don’t complain about?”

    He said, “Sure.” But when I asked him to name “any mines” that NRDC “doesn’t oppose,” he failed to come up with any.

    “Dennis Quaid’s Enemy Mine. That man’s worth his weight in gold. And then there’s Sal Mineo. Great actor. Uh, also, um, I play Minecraft. So, you know…”

    1. Or, hey I got mine, screw everyone else.

  3. EPA got the goldmine, he got the shaft.

  4. They should have donated large sums of money to the Clinton Foundation.

    That would have gotten the State Dept. to give it’s approval at least. It worked for the Canadian interests in the Keystone pipeline.

    1. The Govs. refusal to OK Keystone really pisses me off. It shoulld prove to everyone that the people running our Government are crooks.
      pure and simple. Pipelines are the safest and cheapest method of moving oil. Much safer than rail cars which often move the oil through cities. But Warren Buffett owns major interests in the railroads and makes literally billions of dollars in revenue every years hauling oil. Buffett gives a lot of money to Democrats and the President. So the pipeline doesn’t get built.

      I have a buddy who is a CNC machinist. He works for a multinational machine tools corporation. His company spent over 1.5 years building valves and fitting and other parts for the pipeline. They are all packed in grease and stored in a warehouse.

      We were told that if the pipeline wasn’t built the oil would go to China. With China’s current stock market melting down it doesn’t look like that is gonna happen and the Canadians are going to wait until Obama is out hoping a Republican will win the office. Even if Hillary wins it will be interesting to she what she does. The State Dept approved the pipleline while she was SoS because, as we now know, some people donated 2.3 million dollars to the Clinton Slush Fund. Will she stay bought and OK the pipeline or will they have to make another donation ? Electing Hillary will send the message to the world that our Government can openly be bought if the price is right.

      1. Can I be packed in grease? Seems like it would feel good.

        1. Bacon grease. mmmm
          Just cooked a cheese sandwich in bacon grease. Delightful.

          1. Make popcorn with bacon grease too. Delicious.

        2. Grease is for amateurs.

          Cosmoline is where it’s at. 😉

      2. Electing Hillary will send the message to the world that our Government can openly be bought if the price is right.

        I’m pretty sure most of the world already knows that.

      3. “Will she stay bought and OK the pipeline or will they have to make another donation ?”

        Come on be serious. She’s going to expect more money. She didn’t get where she is by bending over backward to help people. She gets paid for everything she does. I’m sure she would say, “You paid to get the State Departments approval and that’s what you got. It’s not my fault that it got squelched by the portions of the government outside of my control.”

        1. Simon Cameron, briefly Lincoln’s Secretary of War, set the bar for honesty in politics when he said, “An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.” So, if Hillary is honest, she’ll stay bought.

          Of course, a Pennsylvania congressman, Thaddeus Stevens, said of Cameron, “I don’t think that he would steal a red hot stove.” When Cameron complained, Stevens said, “I believe I told you he would not steal a red-hot stove. I will now take that back.” It may be time to look into Hillary’s background to see if there are any red-hot stoves next to her e-mail server.

  5. Brrrmmmmmhhrmrmrm brrrrmhhmhmmhhmhm

    Starting up my woodchipper early this morning.

    1. Of course this is a theoretical wood chipper that runs off of solar

      1. Mine runs off the blood of the patriarchy. Time to keep up with the Joneses.

  6. EPA = Everybody’s Penetration Agency

    1. Eliminating Productive Activity

      1. Extending Pointless Argumentation.

  7. Polls show that the majority of Alaskans oppose this project, to the tune of 62% opposed and only 33% pro. And it was the people who live there who petitioned the EPA to use their 404c authority. Their concern over the 94 miles of salmon spawning streams that would be destroyed, to say nothing of the impact on the 14,000 jobs supported by the salmon fishing industry, and all through a project owned by a Canadian company.

    So much for states rights, eh?

      1. This is not a states rights issue, it’s an individual property rights issue. No majority of people should be able to vote away someone’s legitimate property rights. If those 62% opposed don’t want this land used for a mine, then they should buy it and let it sit fallow.

        that being said, State-level environmental regulation is superior to national-level regulation, to the extent that it occurs. And, the state environmental agency did not halt the project. All you cite is a poll (probably a biased one and one that is tainted by miselading propaganda as noted in the article), stating that the people polled opposed the mine

        1. If the owners of a foundry buy the house next door to yours, you can be thankful they can’t do what they want on the property next to yours.

          Reason cites polls all the time. You just don’t like what this one says.

          1. I live in a covenant community (i.e. one where the property owners all agreed what would be done with the surrounding properties). so, the foundry is welcome to purchase the lot next door and do as it pleases, so long as it complies with the covenants.

            Of course, that ignores zoning (which I am not a fan of), which would also preclude the foundry from doing most untoward things on the next-door lot.

            I’m fine with the poll, for whatever it’s worth. But, I’m not fine with you representing that a poll of some locals is the same thing as “states rights.”

            Why can’t you make a point in good faith without lying? Is it becasue your point wouldn’t hold up under the truth?

          2. Well… I would say the the foundry owners in your hypothetical absolutely DO (or should at least) have the right to do what they want on the property, so long as what they are doing does not affect my use and enjoyment of my property.

            As a practical matter, this would be hard. Noise, pollution, etc, would be really difficult to control but the idea remains valid.

            If what I’m smelting in my garage can be reasonably shown to have no impact on my neighbors, then get off my lawn.

            This was theoretically the point of environmental impact studies. If the mine’s waste is going to be dirty but fairly benign water, no problem. If the waste is going to be huge amounts of mercury and, i dunno, benzine, maybe let’s rethink this.

            The idea that nonpartisan, trained scientists would make the decision about what was reasonably safe for a given area and/or circumstance probably seemed like a good one. And if the neighbors didn’t like it, they could sue directly to try and stop it.

            Where we have wound up is just ridiculous.

          3. This is why their are courts. You need to read the libertarian manifesto on the environment.

          4. If I don’t like what my neighbor does on his property (and no violation of NAP happens) I am free to buy it from him/her/it.

            Logical consistency.

          5. Jackand Ace thinks that if a majority of the public agrees with his bullshit, control freak, statist agenda that he is right and all he is is a fucking moron who doesn’t mind taking bread off of working class people’s plates. Yeah fuck you, asshole, change your name to Jackoff Asshole, please.

      2. In the aftermath of the EPA’s report, likely Alaskan voters overwhelmingly oppose developing Pebble Mine (62%).” (emphasis added)

        “54% agree that ‘The EPA and the Clean Water Act have an important role to play in protecting the water we drink and fish in. This report confirmed what Alaskans already knew ? Pebble Mine is too big a threat to Alaska’s salmon industry, jobs, and economy.’ ”

        They didn’t include the actual poll questions, but it sounds like this is one of them, in which case this “survey” is worth about half the electrons spent on it.

    1. The state of Alaska has its own regulatory authority, doesn’t it?

      The use of private property shouldn’t be determined by majority rule, even at the state level, though.

      Funky, the possible conflict between fishermen and mine should be resolved in the market, not through regulatory authority.

      1. Do tell how that gets resolved in the market. Build the mine, and see what happens? Too late.

        1. Sure, if the company calculates how much money it would cost to buy all the property they would negatively affect by building the mine and that (on top of all operating costs) is still smaller than the estimated revenue from the mine, then they build it.

          If they are stupid and violate NAP by ruining my property without buying it from me first, then they are idiots and I get a whole bunch of money from them because they violated NAP. Also, they quickly go out of business and get to work off their debts to me for a very long time.

          Logical consistency.

        2. Jackoff Asshole, you know that the technology has improved in regards to mines, don’t you? I mean I know your stuck in some fantasy land where its the early 1900’s in Britain and children on choking on coal dust from the mines their being “forced into” but that isn’t reality. I know you have a real problem with reality by what you type in your so called “comments”.

    2. Derp de derp, der teedily derp. Derpty derpty derpity derpty dumb.

    3. part of the article is how environmental groups lied to the public to convince them to not want the mine. and as usual the adds were full of lies.

    4. I did not realize that what an individual could do on his own property was determined by statewide polls.

      Their concern is not relevant, if they want to decide what can be done with the property they are free to purchase it and build nothing on it.

      Otherwise, I am good with killing them. Tired of socialists, tired of you, given up on persuading you and them to use logic or have actual principles.

      After all, violence, whether done directly or by using government to do it for you, can justifiably be met with violence.

      1. You didn’t realize it? You might want to look into it. There are plenty of things you can’t do with your own property.

        1. Why?

          1. Because some third party doesn’t like it. Whenever the third party decides it has a compelling interest in a transaction between consenting people, they get to stop/regulate it.


          2. Because when you buy your property you have a reasonable expectation that all your neighbors will comply with zoning laws, which were created to protect YOUR rights as a property owner.

            1. zoning laws, which were created to protect YOUR rights as a property owner

              AKA, they prevent any type of free market interactions, sort of like a minimum wage.

              Face it, the vast majority of zoning laws do nothing to prevent NAP. They are made by people who don’t like that their neighbors can do what they like with their property. They don’t protect your rights, they constrain them.

            2. While I understand why one might want a zoning law that says “This area MUST be residential only”, I don’t see how requiring other areas to be “industrial only” or “commercial only” and then insist on forbidding people from living in those areas protects ANYONE’S rights. Nor do I see how requiring houses to be of a certain size in one neighborhood, or forbidding houses that are smaller than some arbitrary limit, beneficial for those who would like to live in a different sized house.

              I may have no problem, for example, with a big house or two in a neighborhood with lots of little houses, nor do I have a problem with a small house or two in a neighborhood of big houses; indeed, I think the best neighborhoods are ones with a good mixture of all types of houses…but City Councilmen somehow think that everything has to be uniform, and require their uniformity via Zoning Laws.

              The fact that zoning laws are concerned with details as ridiculous as what size your house can be, or whether or not you could have apartments above your shopping centers and factories, indicates to me that zoning laws are more about CONTROL than they are about protecting MY property rights.

        2. Yeah, Jackoff Asshole, because your a fucking control freak that wants to control everything. You can’t fathom absolute property rights because you have the brain of a sheep, do us all favor and go somewhere where your welcome, you know like those tranny porn sites you like to visit.

    5. “Like most people, I have never seen a pollster.”

      Thomas Sowell

    6. From PR Newswire, right? Solid source there, scout.

  8. ” [A] Democrat who managed environmental policy for Bill Clinton and Al Gore…”

    Special snowflake who had a real opportunity to address the overbearing regulatory state doesn’t get what he wants and so now the EPA is a problem?

    Fucks given: Zero.

    1. Personally I’m kind of enjoying the schadenfreude. This guy probably thought that he was doing God’s work and any “kkkorporashunz” that complained about environmental regulations were just a bunch of whiny bitches complaining about not being able to “rape mother Gaia” or some such horseshit.

      Now he’s trying to get this mine up an running, and it sounds like he’s even trying to jump through all the hoops and gets shut down before he even gets to the first hoop. Kind of ironic.

      1. They’re treating him well for all his good years working for Bill and Al. If he were a plain businessperson they would make him do ten years of studies, all of which show everything is fine, and then turn him down.

  9. the agency has been captured by environmental zealots.

    Well duh, who else dreams of some day working for the EPA?

  10. The penetrationzzz continue….

  11. “Do tell how that gets resolved in the market. Build the mine, and see what happens? Too late.”

    See Ron Paul’s comments on the EPA and property rights; or for that matter, any other serious libertarian candidate or thinker.

    Your lack of imagination [without the state] is disturbing.

    1. Provide a link that shows Ron saying the market will answer the dispute between fishermen and mine owners, or even a parallel. I won’t do your work for you…don’t be so lazy.

      1. It’s any idea so simple your ‘progressive’ mind probably won’t be able to comprehend. Property rights – equal protection of property owners under the law. Individuals should answer to their neighbors whose rights they infringe upon, which is what our civil court system exists for, settling these types of disputes. Are you familiar with the concept of case law and legal precedent? Get rid of the EPA and use the money for more courts, if necessary. Your ‘progressive’ mind also probably cannot comprehend the FACT that centralized planning does not work, ever.

        Fuck off slaver.


        1. Seen comment on your next link. Same applies.

        2. Moridin, its not worth it debating with Jackoff Asshole, his head is empty and he doesn’t want to admit, he has no fucking argument, no statist does. All he can do is deflect which he is doing in everyone of his “comments”.

        1. Not even close to the question posed.

          Do tell how Ron explained how the market will settle competing interests of 2 businesses, in this case fishermen and miners, on the surrounding land.

          You provided a link. Alas, it has nothing to do with the comments. Try again. But I did read it.

          1. Maybe you cannot read as well as you think.

            It’s called DA COURTS.

      2. Provide a link showing that the EPA doesn’t constantly abuse its power.

  12. Since this area is home to over 50% of the WORLD’S population of sockeye salmon, and that is what the majority of Alaskans are concerned about with the mine, Stossel ought to take note of concern over this years dwindling population of that stock due to abnormally warm water temperatures coming from this year’s record breaking heat. He ought to take note because he ignores the warnings from science on climate change…not enough proof for him yet.


    1. “The biggest run of Bristol Bay salmon in 20 years is projected to slam nets and reach spawning grounds in 2015, presenting a bounty for commercial fishermen and a challenge for processors.”

      You really don’t know what your writing about.

      1. I’ve seen ignorant comments here, but yours wins a prize. You posted a quote from 2014, before these devastating warm temperatures and die off of sockeye salmon. We are in 2015, you know.

        Someone hasn’t a clue, and it’s you.

        1. Climate change is 2015, not 2014. Just started up really.

        2. No Jackoff Asshole you have no FUCKING clue, you don’t want to comprehend what your reading because it gets in the way of your control freak, fascist agenda. Fuck off, moron asshole, your not even a good troll.

  13. Dream On ? :

    “In your dreams, the EPA is not a scam”
    “In your dreams, the FDA is not a scam”
    “In your dreams, the FBI is not a scam”
    “In your dreams, the Constitution was not a scam”,
    “In your dreams, the Bill of rights was not a scam”,
    “In your dreams, the Supreme Court was not a scam”…..

    …and so on and so forth, ad infinitum

    See : “Dreams[ Anarchist Blues]”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0o-C1_LZzk

    Regards, onebornfree.

    The Freedom Network: http://www.freedominunfreeworld.blogspot.com

  14. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…

  15. The EPA is a rogue agency. It should be totally, completely defunded. All it’s employees should be given their walking papers. Then the buildings housing the agency should be torn down and salt strewn on the ground so nothing will ever grow there again.

  16. Zealots at the EPA?
    When the f*ck did that happen.

  17. War, whether it be for sobriety, welfare or world peace, all lend support to the political \ bureaucratic complex. The outcome of each “war” is immaterial to politicians. It’s the power and control that each legislated conflict gives Congress that really matters. The EPA is just a small part of that big picture.

  18. I don’t recall any major devastation to San Francisco since 1906 earthquake nor any city in between the 98 mile span between SF and the Kennedy Gold Mine in Jackson CA. Oh well, as usual, the Kennedys got theirs…http://www.kennedygoldmine.com/ “On the Kennedy Gold Mine surface tour, visitors see the mine office building where gold flakes were melted into large bricks to ship by Wells Fargo to San Francisco. ” and “Prospected in 1860, reorganized in 1886 and continuously run until 1942, the Kennedy Gold Mine produced approximately $34,280,000 in gold according to the CA Dept. of Conservation.”

  19. Big fan of Stossel, but even a skeptical read of the facts (such as potential damage to fisheries and the associated infrastructure needed to build and service the mine, it’s workers ) should make one pause.

    The real issue to focus on is the ability of the EPA to veto a project before a mine plan is finalized and then evaluated through the normal process.

  20. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…

  21. Fuck environmentalists. You know how the saying goes “green on the outside, red on the inside” like a watermelon. Their using piss your pants, crybaby “environmentalism” to mask their socialist, control freak agenda. Whats funny is most of these types hate technology and want us to go back to foraging in the forest, except of course for themselves, technology and capitalism are the very things that helped develop cleaner methods of development.

  22. This is the kind of stuff that drives me nuts, because hey, what can I do about it? It’s a small blip on the political scene. People only talk about the EPA when some actual disaster occurs, not when they prevent any possibility of economic activity.

  23. People say the same thing about people who leave EPA/other regulatory agencies for industry (captured, revolving door, etc), which is probably more common because there is more opportunity. Want to get rid of EPA? Fine. It’s probably possible…if one can convince the average person that rivers won’t be catching on fire (eg we have tried no environmental regulation in the past,..it didn’t work, which is what precipitated the current system.

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