EPA's Armed Raid of Miners Over Water Regs Prompts Probes by Senators, Governor

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | September 12, 2013 | 11:51 AM EDT

Two U.S. senators and Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell have launched investigations into the EPA's armed raid of miners in the tiny Alaskan town of Chicken.

U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) sent a letter Wednesday to Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Gina McCarthy regarding news reports of an armed raid conducted against miners in Chicken, Alaska last month.

In the letter, Vitter and Barrasso call on McCarthy to justify and explain the armed raid by agents in full body armor to investigate potential Clean Water Act violations. They also suggest the raid is a sign of a larger problem "given EPA's recent hostility towards the mining industry in Alaska and elsewhere":

"Your prompt attention to this particular matter is of paramount importance given EPA's recent hostility towards the mining industry in Alaska and elsewhere.  Although previous efforts by the Agency have included retroactively vetoing permits, creating theoretical mining operations, or otherwise causing uncertainty that jeopardizes investment and economic opportunity, this particular instance is of heightened concern.

"Indeed, there is growing concern throughout the country that EPA is more interested in shutting down natural resource industries than it is in faithfully executing federal environmental statutes.  Such an approach to commerce is antithetical to job creation and our national security."

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell expressed outrage at the "intrusion and intimidation of Alaskans" in his announcement of his investigation into the raid:

"With a mere last minute notification to our DEC commissioner, Alaska's attorney general, and the Department of Public Safety, the EPA, BLM and a DEC investigator took it upon themselves to swoop in on unsuspecting miners in remote Alaska."

"This level of intrusion and intimidation of Alaskans is absolutely unacceptable. I will not tolerate any state agency's participation in this sort of reckless conduct. There are many unanswered questions and I will seek a special counsel to get to the bottom of this matter and work to ensure it never happens again."

"No arrests were made and no citations were issued" in the armed raid investigating clean water regulation compliance, Gov. Parnell noted.