Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Court Decision in Bristol Bay Forever Case May Be Challenged

Plaintiffs in failed litigation to keep off the ballot an initiative to require legislative approval of mining activities in the Alaska’s Bristol Bay region are evaluating whether to appeal the court’s decision, counsel for the pro-mining litigants says.

But no decision has been made yet and the deadline for filing such a challenge won’t be established until the Alaska Superior Court enters a fee order or a new final judgment, said Matt Singer, an Anchorage attorney. Singer represented the plaintiffs, including mining consultant Richard Hughes, the Alaska Miners Association and the Council of Alaska Producers in the case against former Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and the state of Alaska.

The Superior Court decision handed down Jan. 28 awarded fees of nearly $64,000 to intervenors in the case on the side of the state, three residents who sponsored the initiative. The Superior Court noted in its decision that plaintiffs’ council had stated in oral arguments on attorney’s fees that plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees were being paid by the Pebble Limited Partnership, Alaska Miners Association and Council of Alaska Producers, and that the PLP had agreed to indemnify plaintiffs for any fees awarded against them in the case.

The decision is related to an Alaska Supreme Court decision in which the justices ruled in favor of the state and initiative sponsors. While the high court had issued its decision last year, it released a lengthy opinion on Jan. 30 explaining how it reached that decision.

The Renewable Resources Coalition, an Alaska group whose stated purpose is to preserve and protect the viability of Alaska’s abundant fishing and hunting resources, and lands and waters they need to survive, hailed the Supreme Court’s opinion on its decision as validation of the Bristol Bay Forever initiative.

In last November’s general election, 65 percent of voters approved the initiative.

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