Alaska sues EPA over Pebble mine prohibitions

(Image courtesy of Pebble Partnership.)

Alaska sued the US Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday seeking to overturn an agency decision that it said effectively blocked development of one of the world’s largest copper and gold deposits.

The complaint filed in an Anchorage federal court challenges the EPA’s 2023 final determination that prohibited the discharge of mining waste from the so-called Pebble deposit into the state’s Bristol Bay.

It comes about a month after a similar lawsuit was filed by the site’s developer, Northern Dynasty Minerals.

The Bristol Bay watershed in southwestern Alaska supports the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, provides habitat to birds and mammals and is known for its large mineral resources.

The EPA in reaching its decision said it was concerned that mining waste would degrade the watershed and harm important fishing ecosystems.

The state said the agency’s decision would deny it billions in revenues from taxes and royalties and called the move “a blatant affront to the sovereignty” of the state.

Alaska claimed the EPA’s decision arbitrarily failed to properly consider the costs and benefits of its decision in violation of federal administrative law and exceeded its authority under the federal Clean Water Act. It asked the court to set aside the final determination and declare the EPA violated those laws.

The EPA declined to comment, and Northern Dynasty didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is Alaska v. US Environmental Protection Agency, in the US District Court for the District of Alaska, case No. 3:24-cv-00084.

For the state: Attorney General Treg Taylor and Assistant Attorney General Ronald Opsahl of the Alaska Department of Law, and Norman James and Tyler Carlton of Fennemore Craig

For the EPA: Not immediately available

(By Clark Mindock)


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