Federal court denies environmentalists their attempt to block Pebble - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, October 19, 2021
HomePoliticsFederal court denies environmentalists their attempt to block Pebble

Federal court denies environmentalists their attempt to block Pebble

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A Federal District Court judge dismissed a case brought by environmental groups opposed to the Pebble Project. The groups had challenged a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency that reversed an earlier preemptive denial of the Pebble Project before the project proponents could even apply for permits.

Pebble CEO Tom Collier called the decision by Judge Sharon Gleason a major victory for Pebble, the State of Alaska, and the rule of law.

“For years, we have sought basic fairness for the Pebble Project to be fully vetted under the regular permitting process and to block attempts to preempt that fundamental right. Once again, a coalition of anti Pebble groups including national environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council have been proven wrong in their ad hominem attacks on Pebble. This time a Federal District Judge in Alaska has ruled that their most recent attack did not even state a cause of action that required review by the court. Therefore, their lawsuit against EPA was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction,” Collier said.

“We have long held that the preemptive veto against Pebble was poor public policy and that decisions about the merits of developing a mine at the Pebble Prospect should be made through the traditional permitting process. The preemptive veto was brought against the project by the Obama era EPA and before a single permit to develop had been filed with a regulatory agency. The current administration made the correct decision to withdraw the preemptive veto and allow the project to be reviewed in the normal state and federal permitting process.” Collier said in a statement.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers schedule calls for the Final Environmental Impact Statement and the Record of Decision for the project to be issued by mid-year.

“We see no reason why this schedule will not be met, especially now that this meritless litigation has been dismissed,” Collier said.

However, the environmental groups calling themselves The Defense Alliance are well-funded, motivated, and lawyered-up, and might be expected to pursue the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The groups stated on Friday that they are considering all legal options.

The Defense Alliance members are the Bristol Bay Native Association, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, Bristol Bay Reserve Association and Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • The lawsuits of the environmental groups against the EPA for allegedly wrongfully withdrawing its Proposed Determination, commonly known as the preemptive veto, was dismissed by Judge Gleason for failure to state a cause of action because the Court decided that the decision to withdraw was a matter solely within the discretion of the EPA, akin to an agency’s decision not to enforce a penalty or a prosecutor’s decision not to prosecute, and therefore was not permissible under the Administrative Procedure Act, an exception expressly stated in the Act that normally gives citizens the right to sue a federal agency if the agency has acted arbitrarily, capriciously abused their discretion or acted otherwise contrary to law. Judge Gleason decided that the EPA had not done so in exercising its discretion.

  • You may be surprised to see how many folks in Bristol Bay support Pebble. Pro jobs.

  • There could have been a couple thousand high paying jobs at the Pebble mine already. Had BBNC kept the 19% of Pebble donated to it by Rio Tinto, they could have vetoed any unsafe practice at the mine.
    NRDC and the others played the locals well. Wasn’t hard as the locals had never had to deal with a concerted propaganda campaign before.

    • Good to see you too, Joe.

  • Careful who you’re calling an environmentalist Suzanne!! I am a conservative Republican Alaskan who was born here in 49. I am like a lot of hard working and conservative Bristol Bay Alaskans who just happen to see the stupidity behind this project!

    • Merely calling yourself conservative does not make it so. Saying there is “stupidity behind this project” without explanation is a poor communication.

      • Personally, I think the term ‘conservative’ has been stolen by greed. Conservative actually means to be careful with and go slowly. Destroying habitat and watersheds for jewlery Is a stupid project, I agree.
        Have any of you looked at what has happened to say, Montana after projects like the one proposed here have come and gone? Toxic lakes and streams that are too expensive to clean up so the mining companies get off the hook. It’s an old game and I am so glad that Bristol Bay has gotten together to ‘Conserve’ their most precious resources.

    • Forecast for 2020 looks good. What’s the ex-vessel price going to be this year? Nobody knows for sure yet, but the inverse relationship says that the higher the harvest, the lower the price, adjusted by stock left over from last year.
      The big question is whom will be buying? Will anyone be buying? The current COVID-19 driven economic meltdown has every price forecast looking grim.
      A worrisome time for many commercial fishermen.

  • John,

    Why is providing 1,100 direct jobs paying over $100,00 per year and 2,000 indirect jobs, all without endangering the Bristol Bay commercial fishery, a “stupid project”? It makes perfectly good sense to me. In addition, the local communities nearest the project will benefit from getting badly needed jobs in one of the poorest counties in the U.S., and the communities’ revenues will increase substantially from taxes paid by Pebble, as will the revenues of the State.

    • BBNC doesn’t care because they’ve been surviving quite well on ANCSA 7(i) profit sharing from the other 11 regional Native corporations. It amounted to over 2000 bucks per shareholder last year.
      Good to see you here litig8. panamice aka josephdj

      • Good to see you too, Joe!

  • There really is no reason to have regulations and process if we are going to willy nilly just decide something is wrong BEFORE anyone even has an opportunity to make a proposal plan or investigate the possibilities. And if we are not going to have regulations an processes that businesses can depend upon before they start spending money to put forward proposals, we might just as well change our trajectory and become a third world nation with all the benefits such a nation enjoys in the modern world. The great environmental protections of the third world nations, the great human rights conditions for workers that the third world nations enjoy. All those great benefits without the rule of law, yeah . . . . . .that’s what we want – right?

    I find it astounding that the environmental groups will fight tooth and nail to get regulations and requirements in place pointing to concerns these regulations address and their necessity to protect the environment and in the next moment, just decide that all those regulations and science are unnecessary, when the results don’t agree with their preconceived “gut feeling”. It’s like dealing with jr high school intellect.

    • Excellent observations, Michael.?

  • With the price of oil plummeting to unprecedented lows, the State is now more desperate than ever to diversify its economy, which has been heavily dependent on oil. It costs more for the State to manage the commercial fishery than it receives in taxes. Pebble is needed, and the sooner the better. And the salmon will be fine, as the upcoming Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) will show.

  • I think it is interesting that the author has chosen to label the Defense Alliance as ‘environmental groups’. They are: Bristol Bay Native Association, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, Bristol Bay Reserve Association and Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation. None of these would likely label themselves environmentalists but, in this case, perhaps they’ve ended up against pebble mine because they would prefer lives and not just ‘jobs’.
    The Gold is already coming to spawn, as we write…

    • You’re known by whom you associate with. NRDC, Trout Unlimited, and most of the others pushing the “No Pebble” agenda apparently are just one degree removed fronts for the Chinese Communist Party. The CCP’s agenda is to obstruct and delay American mineral and energy independence, which greatly benefits China’s economy.
      This makes them the practical equivalent of being unregistered foreign sponsored NGOs. This makes their actions tantamount to subversion and sabotage. This makes all of you appear to be borderline traitors.
      That you want to protect your fishery is a good thing, but you got suckered into going about it the wrong way.

    • To add: just how many times do I have to remind everyone that BBNC had 19% ownership of the Pebble mine itself, and not just stock in Northern Dynasty?
      BBNC had enough votes to veto any unsafe practices in the mine operations. Now the mine is going to happen, and BBNC has absolutely no voice in the matter.
      What were you thinking? Were you being politically correct? The price you’re going to pay for that little guilty pleasure……

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