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EPA raid on Alaska’s gold mines triggers federal probe

by Cecilia Jamasmie | September 12, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of

U.S. senators are demanding answers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after media reports said agency officials took part last month in an armed raid on gold mines near the remote town of Chicken, Alaska.

According to the Alaska Dispatch, federal authorities have also requested the EPA explain why it sent armed officers to conduct a water pollution-related inspection.

“Agents with body armour showing up at a gold mine to enforce the Clean Water Act is an invitation to disaster. A confrontation between unannounced armed agents and armed miners could end in a hail of gunfire,” writes blogger Chris Bennett.

The agency has not denied its law enforcement officers wore body armour and carried firearms, which it says the agents are required to do. However, EPA told the Alaska Dispatch it was never a “raid.”

“Environmental law enforcement, like other forms of law enforcement, always involves the potential for physical, even armed, confrontation,” said the EPA in a statement e-mailed to Fox News.

The probe comes on the heels of another EPA-lead controversy. For months the agency has been trying to pre-emptively veto the proposed open pit copper and gold Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, also in Alaska, by denying it a permit before any plans for the mine have been put forward.

Essentially EPA and other environmental groups say Pebble would generate tons of potentially dangerous waste material, which would damage the area’s salmon population, one of the world’s most valuable habitats for the fish.

The joint venture behind the project—formed by mining giants Northern Dynasty Minerals TSX:NDM, Anglo American and Rio Tinto NYE:RIO—has repeatedly attacked EPA’s assessments, calling them “flawed” and “biased.”

The deposit, which could be worth as much as half a trillion dollars, hosts 55 billion pounds of copper, 76 million ounces of gold, 3.3 billion pounds of molybdenum, and quantities of silver, palladium and rhenium.

If approved, it would become the largest open pit copper and gold mine in the world.

Reprinted by permission of

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