The Biden administration has not been shy about reorganizing science and health until it does what they want, and a new move to block a mine in Alaska will probably not pass legal challenges, but is he right on the science this time?(1)

First, it is important to know politicians are rarely correct. There is no 'party of science' and no 'scientist in chief'. that is just an intellectual halo elected officials wrap their constituents in to feel good. Name a president you think is pro-science and I can tell you how they were the opposite.

Instead of being pro-science, they posture, like when Democrats made oil company executives appear before Congress and explain why they hadn't cut oil production, a month before oil company executives were told by Democrats to increase oil production after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Oil company executives know that is part of politics, it is built into the business model.

The recent decision by the Biden administration to ban the Pebble Mine in remote Alaska is not simple politics, nor is it weird manipulation of OSHA and the CDC that will get slapped down by courts quickly, It is a legitimate use of regulatory fiat under the Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 ruling - commonly called "Chevron deference" - and that is the problem. Chevron Deference has nothing to do with science, it simply declared that a government agency could create regulations that act like laws if those regulations were in their mandate. Broaden the mandate and presidents could circumvent Congress as they like.

The Biden administration believes EPA can broaden its mandate so far as to overturn Alaska's permitting process, using Chevron Deference. That is the part that will get them to the Supreme Court, as happened with other recent times the White House tortured the law amd science to make it comply to their desires.

The logic in this case is maddening if you are not in one political camp or another. We want to be less dependent on foreign oil, the administration says, and migrate to alternatives, but right now we are dependent on foreign resources and labor to make solar panels. The White House says they are protecting Bristol Bay while a Natural Resources Defense Council lawyer says “It’s a victory for science over politics."

Who was the group behind the original Chevron Deference decision at a court that leaned as far to the left then as it does to the right now? Natural Resources Defense Council trial lawyers. Natural Resources Defense Council would not know science if it landed on top of them in a mineshaft so let's look at that.

Like happened with Hawaiians protesting and making astronomy give up on their state, white activists from the lower 48 mobilized local people and convinced them their way of life - fishing for people in 48 states is apparently their ancient tradition - will be jeopardized. Yet they don't show how. The United States has the strongest environmental protection on earth(2) but like Alaska National Wildlife Reserve and Keystone XL, science is a la carte in politics, imagery is what matters.(3) Biden officials are claiming it would impact waterways but in scientific reality the area of effect is only three small tributaries. The Bering Sea would still have plenty of water and salmon are easy to work around. In California near me is an artificial salmon run that works fine - but would not get approved today with the stranglehold environmentalists have on politicians here.(4) 

In the tortuous politicization of science that affects everything, President Obama said it 'needs more study', which meant punting the issue to his successor the way President Clinton did with human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research - so he wouldn't contradict himself. During the Trump years they were allowed to file for a permit, which even Pebble Mine opponents like Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska says was bad law - the federal government can't make permits for Alaska. Then EPA removed their desire to block it, but then the Biden administration asked a friendly judge to vacate their previous vacating and further declared no future EPA could change their mind again, which is the kind of berserk posturing we have seen too often. 

Blocking this project claiming lifestyles or salmon will be at risk is as ridiculous as telling a landowner in Louisiana they had to spend $30 million to tear down one forest and put in a new one - for a few hundred frogs living in Mississippi.(5) The closest city is 200 miles away, even the closest village is nowhere near it. With scientific guidance, rather than bans pretending to be science, everyone would win.

To avoid losing in court, the Biden administration will invoke Chevron Deference, which means that is the Supreme Court decision the pro-science community should be targeting. It will prevent a lot of suspect science being used to create bad laws that are called regulations, all at the whim of political leaders who change every few years.


(1) It is right to be skeptical. The wording of law was abused when the White House told OSHA to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory or else employees must be fired, something no administration had ever done, not even to nurses and doctors in hospitals because it is in defiance of body autonomy Democrats especially claim to prize. It was also claimed to be science when the White House told the CDC to ban evictions for people who did not pay their rent.

(2) Even Europe, which likes to claim it cares about its green political parties, was giving a free pass to Russia and voiding all environmental concerns about the new pipeline right up until Russia invaded Ukraine again - and the previous Ukrainian invasion was why they wanted a new pipeline, to bypass that country so Russia could invade again and not jeopardize their people.

(3) President Obama even once promised American workers an extension from Keystone XL while he was vetoing it over the objections of his own scientists.  Few journalists even noticed. That is mastery of the press.

(4) The government won't add more water storage despite wildfires and droughts yet we are wasting $5 billion on composting while sitting on over $500 billion in unfunded liabilities.

(5) Science 2.0 helped win that fight at the Supreme Court, because they have to look at the science, and if this gets challenged as well, I suspect the result will be the same.