Company behind controversial Pebble Mine project sues over EPA rejection

The company behind the controversial Alaskan Pebble Mine project sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday for blocking the project last year.

In a statement Friday, the Pebble Partnership alleged the EPA’s veto was issued before the completion of the permitting process. Rather than waiting for the Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) permitting process to conclude, the EPA made its decision under a provision of the Clean Water Act that allows it to restrict mining activity in the Bristol Bay watershed. The bay contains the world’s single largest sockeye salmon fishery.

“The most appropriate place to determine whether the project should advance remains within the regulatory process and without political interference. The USACE initiated an Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] process for evaluating the Pebble Project and the EPA fully participated in this process as a cooperating agency,” Pebble Limited Partnership CEO John Shively said in a statement. “The conclusions asserted by the EPA in their veto are in direct contrast with the final EIS for the Pebble Project which clearly indicated the project could be developed without harm to the Bristol Bay fishery.”

Although the Pebble Mine project was vocally opposed by conservationist groups, who hailed the Biden administration for its decision, conservative figures including Donald Trump Jr. and then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson had also called for it to be blocked. In 2020, under then-President Trump, the Army Corps denied a key permit to the project, which is currently under appeal.

“We are confident the courts will uphold the EPA’s protections and reject Pebble’s attempts to revive a mining project that Alaskans do not support and the science has shown time and time again would be devastating for the waters that support salmon habitat and our way of life,” said Delores Larson, interim director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay, in a statement.

The Supreme Court previously declined to take up a request from Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s (R) administration seeking a direct ruling from the high court on whether the project should be allowed.

The Hill has reached out to the EPA for comment.

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