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The Cohen Report

Following publication of the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 'Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment' (BBWA) study and initiation of a 'pre-emptive' regulatory action under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act in 2014, the Pebble Partnership retained former US Senator and Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen to conduct an independent investigation into EPA actions pertaining to the Pebble Project.

A team of independent investigators employed by The Cohen Group and law firm DLA Piper reviewed thousands of documents secured through Freedom of Information Act requests and interviewed some 60 individuals involved with EPA or its controversial review of the Pebble Project. On October 6, 2015, Secretary Cohen released his report, entitled 'Report of an Independent Review of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Actions in Connection With Its Evaluation of Potential Mining In Alaska's Bristol Bay Watershed.'

Cohen states: "The decision about whether to build a mine in this area, as well as the process used to make such a decision, is very important to Alaska's environment, economy, people, fish and wildlife. It requires regulatory authority to be exercised in the fairest way possible. After a very thorough review, I do not believe EPA used the fairest and most appropriate process."

The Cohen report raises a series of concerns about potential EPA misconduct, including: that EPA may have pre-determined the outcome of its review before conducting the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment; and, that EPA officials may have had inappropriately close relationships with environmental activists. Cohen urges US Congress and the independent Office of the EPA Inspector General to use their respective subpoena powers to look further into the myriad issues of EPA misconduct catalogued in his report. An Executive Summary of the 346-page Cohen report (with attachments) can be viewed at http://files.cohengroup.net/Final/Final-Executive-Summary.pdf. To access the complete report, visit http://files.cohengroup.net/Final/Final-Report-with-Appendices-compressed.pdf

Pebble selected Secretary Cohen to lead the investigation based on his long-standing reputation in Washington DC for credibility and integrity in government. Cohen served as a member of the US House and Senate for 24 years, and as U.S. Secretary of Defense for four years under President Bill Clinton. He is one of few Republican Senators to be regularly endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters.

Cohen agreed to conduct the investigation into EPA actions "on conditions of independence. I would follow the facts wherever they may lead, and any conclusions would be mine alone."

In an editorial published October 6, 2015, the Wall Street Journal calls the Cohen report "a straightforward yet withering takedown of EPA's conduct".