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The Supreme Court on Monday turned away a challenge by the State of Alaska to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s block of the Pebble Mine project.

The state sought to go directly to the high court and overturn the EPA’s January 2023 decision to veto the mine project based on the federal Clean Water Act and the danger of open-pit mining damaging the Bristol Bay watershed and its salmon fishery.

 Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy in July filed the lawsuit, arguing that the agency decision against the mine and its effect on Alaska economic development warranted an immediate top judicial review.

Bristol Bay fishing advocates hailed the court’s decision, issued Monday without comment. Alaska officials could still pursue an appeal, but only through the usual litigation through lower federal courts.

“While we are relieved and happy to see the Supreme Court dismiss Governor Dunleavy’s unreasoned attempt to challenge the EPA’s Clean Water Act veto of the Pebble Mine, as an Alaskan fisherman I am concerned about the amount of public money that was wasted to push this frivolous case,” said Mark Niver, a Bristol Bay fisherman and board member of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.

“Unfortunately we know that this is not the end of the attacks on Bristol Bay and we will not stop working to defend our irreplaceable fishery. We need our elected officials to work with us to pass legislation to permanently protect Bristol Bay and all that the watershed supports in order to end the uncertainty that’s loomed over us for decades," said Niver.

"We are glad to see the Supreme Court dismiss Governor Dunleavy's attempt to undo the EPA's Clean Water Act veto of the Pebble Mine. The EPA's decision is in alignment with the people of Bristol Bay, a majority of Alaskans, thousands of commercial fishermen, and Americans who know that Bristol Bay’s wild salmon are more important than the interests of a foreign mining company," said Nels Ure, a fisherman and communications director of the Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay.

"It is clear that legislation that permanently protects Bristol Bay is necessary to ensure that we are not forced to fight this existential threat decade after decade." 

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