William Cohen, the former Republican congressman from Maine who served as secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton, charged in the 346-page report that the Environmental Protection Agency “failed to address important considerations” during permitting procedures and relied on hypothetical outcomes in order to deny the open-pit mine on state-owned land 200 miles southwest of Anchorage.
“After a very thorough review, I do not believe EPA used the fairest and most appropriate process,” wrote Cohen, who when hired by Pebble Partnership pledged to follow the facts and not an agenda.
Pebble Partnership is suing the EPA over what it charges is an abuse of the agency’s regulatory authority.
But critics of the project dismissed Cohen’s report as the work of a hired hand who broke no new ground.
“There’s nothing new here except for the fact that William Cohen has now been added to the company’s list of paid consultants,” wrote the National Resources Defense Council. “The report reads like an extended Pebble press release and that’s exactly how the public — and the EPA — should treat it.”
The EPA issued a press release following Cohen’s report, maintaining that “no process could have been more transparent and inclusive of all views.” The agency said it did not take any final action on the project and said there was never a “preemptive veto.”
Pebble Partnership spokesman Mike Heatwole told FoxNews.com the EPA has been anything but transparent and the only reason the agency “did not take a final action” is due to an injunction issued by a federal judge. He said the partnership is studying all the details to ensure that the project is viable and will pass the National Environmental Policy Act.