Pebble Limited Partnership’s lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency will continue as a federal judge denied the agency’s motion to dismiss June 4.
U.S. Alaska District Court Judge H. Russel Holland concluded that while the EPA may not have established the three “anti-mine” groups as described by Pebble in its complaint — the anti-mine coalition, scientists and assessment team — agency staff could have utilized them to draft the pending determination to block development of Pebble’s copper and gold claims near Bristol Bay.
The mining organization’s attorneys argued during a May 28 hearing that the agency was in cahoots with area tribes and mine opposition groups for years prior to and during the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment process.
The exhaustive assessment, which found large-scale mining would irreparably harm the region’s robust salmon fisheries, is the basis for the EPA’s attempt to preemptively stop Pebble through its Clean Water Act Section 404(c) wetlands protection authority.
Pebble’s primary argument centers on the claim that the EPA violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act, or FACA, which requires agencies to remain objective and follow strict public notice and open meetings guidelines on policy issues when taking input from interest groups.
“We are convinced the EPA has pursued a biased process against our project that then drove their actions toward a predetermined outcome,” Pebble CEO Tom Collier said in a formal statement after the order. “Our fight with the EPA has been about a fair and transparent process for objectively evaluating a development plan for our project once we have presented it via the permitting process. In addition to this case, we are seeking documents to show the EPA’s lack of transparency and action under the Freedom of Information Act.”