THEY WANT PREEMPTIVE VETO REINSTATED
Five groups opposing the Pebble Mine have sued the Environmental Protection Agency, hoping to stall or halt the environmental review process for the Pebble Project until, perhaps, a regime change at the White House would bring a Democrat back in office.
Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, Bristol Bay Native Association, Inc., United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Bristol Bay Reserve Association, and Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, filed the lawsuit today.
Scott Kendall, former chief of staff to former Gov. Bill Walker, is the lawyer representing Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.
The complaint says the proposed “Pebble mine would destroy thousands of acres of critical habitat and miles of salmon streams that are essential to Bristol Bay’s commercial, recreational and subsistence salmon fisheries.”
The groups are challenging what the are calling EPA’s “unlawful withdrawal” of its preemptive veto of the mine, which is located on State of Alaska mining land located over 100 miles from the actual bay where fish are caught by commercial fishermen each year by the millions.
Highlights of recent Pebble legal zigzagging:
February, 2014: EPA issued its Proposed Determination under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to preemptively veto ay permitting for “discharge of dredged or fill material related to mining the Pebble deposit into waters of the United States. …” This occurred under the Obama-era EPA.
May, 2014: Pebble Limited Partnership sued the EPA in three separate lawsuits.
May, 2017: EPA and Pebble settled the litigation. The EPA committed to “initiate a process to propose to withdraw the Proposed Determination.”
July, 2017: EPA issued a proposal to withdraw the Proposed Determination, requested public comments, and received over one million comments, most of them against reversing the pre-emptive veto of the mine permit.
July, 2019: EPA announced its decision to withdraw the pre-emptive veto.
October, 2019: The groups are asking the court to vacate the EPA decision to withdraw the preemptive veto of the permitting process, saying the EPA’s decision “is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with law.”
Pebble Spokesman Mike Heatwole said, today “They want to restore the preemptive veto, which vast majority of Alaskans thinks is horrible public policy and would be used to shut down all development going forward.”
Pebble is anticipating a final environmental impact statement to be issued early next year, followed by a “record of decision” later in 2020.