2014 EPA Pebble Mine Suit Rejected By Court

Even during a pandemic, the Pebble Mine hot stove keeps burning – in this case a 2014 Environmental Protection Agency case that was rejected by a judge. Here’s more from the Associated Press via the Anchorage Daily News:

The EPA determination had concluded the mining project posed too great a threat to the salmon-rich waters of Bristol Bay.

The judge’s ruling was based on the amount of latitude government agencies have and what is subject to legal review, rather than the merits or dangers of the mine.

The case focused on a “preemptive veto” the EPA issued during the administration of President Barack Obama, before Pebble Limited Partnership filed an application for the mine in Southwest Alaska.

Here’s some reaction, first from Trout Unlimited Alaska:

ANCHORAGE, AK – Today, Judge Sharon Gleason told Trout Unlimited, Bristol Bay organizations and other groups their lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for arbitrarily withdrawing safeguards for the region’s fishery, called the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination, are dismissed.  

“We’re disappointed this case was not allowed to proceed and are considering our options. Regardless, we remain committed to doing everything in our power to safeguard Bristol Bay,” said Nelli Williams, Alaska program director of Trout Unlimited. “We can’t trade our fisheries, existing businesses, and Alaska Native cultures for a reckless and short-sighted gold mine. The EPA ignored its own science and put the interests of a foreign mining company over the interests of Alaskans and the American public.”

John Holman a life-long Alaskan and owner of No See Um Lodge said: 

“The proposed determination sensibly restricted large-scale mine waste to ensure fishing, communities, thousands of jobs, and a world-class outdoor area was kept intact. It’s extremely disappointing the EPA is turning its back on thousands of Alaskan fishing businesses.”

And from SalmonState:

ANCHORAGE, AK—SalmonState and its co-plaintiffs are considering all available options after a procedural ruling of dismissal in the lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

“This ruling does not in any way change the fact that a mine of the size, type and location of Pebble will have a negative impact on the renewable resources of Bristol Bay and will not meet the standards laid out in the Clean Water Act,” said SalmonState Executive Director Tim Bristol.

 “We filed this lawsuit in hopes of stiffening the spines of EPA political appointees, who are turning their backs on years of science, independent review and public comment conducted by their own staff,” he continued. “The science is clear: the proposed Pebble Mine would endanger Bristol Bay — the world’s greatest remaining sockeye salmon run — and the jobs and ways of life that depend on it.”

In 2014, the EPA proposed Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA)-based protections for Bristol Bay, its residents, its salmon and its jobs. On July 30, 2019, however, EPA political appointees announced the withdrawal of the proposed protections. It is that withdrawal that SalmonState challenged.

“It’s unfortunate that EPA political appointees continue to look out for a foreign mining company over the needs and wishes of Alaskans,” Bristol continued. “In spite of their dereliction of duty, the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment remains the leading science for this unparalleled place.  SalmonState will be considering all available options moving forward.”