In October, the Pebble Limited Partnership filed its third lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, this time seeking documents Pebble alleges were not turned over through prior Freedom of Information Act requests. The EPA is moving forward to establish restrictions against water use in Bristol Bay which will likely prevent development of the Pebble deposit.
Pebble’s first lawsuit against EPA, filed in May, challenged the agency’s legal authority to veto necessary permits before the developer has applied for them. That lawsuit was dismissed as premature by Judge H. Russel Holland on September 26. Holland said the EPA must have issued a final agency decision or final agency action to provide the basis for a legal challenge.
The second lawsuit, filed in early September, alleges that the EPA has been collaborating with scientists and environmental groups to implement EPA’s “scheme” to prohibit mining the Pebble deposit. Those collaborations, says Pebble, were violating provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. FACA, established in 1972, seeks to ensure that the outside citizens and committees who consult with federal agencies “provide advice that is relevant, objective, and open to the public.”
Pebble alleges EPA’s work with Trout Unlimited, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Bristol Bay Native Corporation, and others dating to at least 2008 has been anything but objective and open to the public. Judge Holland will hear from both parties in this lawsuit in November, as Pebble has asked that he issue a preliminary injunction against further EPA action.
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