Lawsuit Filed to Preemptively Stop Pebble Mine (Again)

Lawsuit Filed to Preemptively Stop Pebble Mine (Again)

October 14, 2019

A funny thing happens to the “Magna Carta of environmental law” – a term coined by the environmental zealots at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to describe the NEPA process – when it comes to the proposed Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska.

The process – around since 1969 – outlines the steps development projects must undertake in order to have a thorough review of potential environmental impacts.  Since its creation, over 160 countries have followed suit, creating their own review processes based on the NEPA standards.  Every major and minor development project undertaken in the past 50 years has followed these steps.  None had been preemptively shut down in the middle of the process by a federal agency.  That is, until 2014, when the Pebble Mine was by the Obama-era EPA.

A July, 2019 reversal of that action by the current leadership of the EPA made national and international headlines.  Once again, the Pebble project was able to work through the NEPA process, using science to establish that the mine could be built without harming the world-class fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska.  Once again, Northern Dynasty, the owners of the project, could establish a business case for extracting the prospect’s copper, gold and molybdenum over a twenty-year timeline.  Once again, the prospect of 1000 full-time jobs at the mine – in an area of Alaska saddled with double-digit unemployment most of the year – could allow for families to leave the dependency of welfare, while maintaining their traditional, subsistence lifestyle when not working at the mine.

None of that sat well with commercial fishermen (the vast majority of whom travel to Bristol Bay from ports of call outside of Alaska), lodge owners hell-bent on protecting their $1000-a-person-per-night revenue streams or the numerous eco-extremist organizations who have fund-raised for years using the Pebble project as the “bogeyman” for all things that could possibly go wrong with an open-pit mine.

Dismissing the NEPA process, rejecting the Army Corps of Engineers’ draft environmental impact statement’s findings that the mine would cause minimal to no impact on the Bristol Bay fishery and continuing their baseless assertions that the Pebble project would fail someday, 14 groups filed suit in Federal court last week to overturn the EPA’s 2019 decision, and re-establish the 2014 preemptive veto.

The groups – all well-known anti-development, anti-job organizations dedicated to destroying Alaska’s economy – should be lucky if the court doesn’t throw the suit out without comment.  Their actions are truly despicable, and will impact over 1000 families who clamor for jobs that would allow them to have a hand up, not a handout.

Power The Future will continue to support Northern Dynasty’s right to work through the NEPA process, and not have its business plans shut down by political maneuvering.  We hope that the 14 groups – Trout Unlimited, Trustees for Alaska, Alaska Center, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Alaska Wilderness League, Cook Inletkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of McNeil River, McNeil River Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, SalmonState, Sierra Club, and Wild Salmon Center – will be scrutinized and vilified by Alaskans for their actions, with the same veracity that they fight progress, energy independence and green energy development daily.