Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Northern Dynasty, EPA Could Mediate Pebble Mine

Northern Dynasty Minerals, whose Alaska based Pebble Limited Partnership seeks to build a large scale copper mine near the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, now wants to mediate over related issues.

Northern Dynasty says that the Canadian mining firm and the US Environmental Protection Agency have filed a joint notice in federal court stating their intent to enter into mediation in an effort to resolve ongoing litigation under the federal Advisory Committee Act.

The Pebble Partnership alleges that the EPA violated the Federal Advisory committee Act by its interactions with, and undue influence of environmental non-government organizations and anti-Pebble activists in development of the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, and its regulatory action under section 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act. In November of 2014, a federal court judge granted Pebble’s request for a preliminary injunction in the FACA case, prohibiting the EPA from any further steps toward finalizing the 404 (c) regulatory action.

Section 404 (c) authorizes the EPA to prohibit, restrict or deny the discharge of dredged or fill materials at defined sites into waters of the United States whenever it determines that such actions would have an unacceptable adverse impact on various resources, including fisheries, wildlife, municipal water supplies or recreational areas.

A spokesperson for EPA’s Region 10/ Pacific Northwest Office in Seattle, says “the EPA remains committed to protecting the unique and valuable Bristol Bay fishery and way of life and stands behind the process it has started to ensure protection of this watershed.

“EPA also remains open to alternatives to litigation to resolve disputes, including mediation, which the Alaska court requires parties to consider,” the spokesperson said. “However, the parties will also be continuing to complete the discovery phase of the litigation during the mediation, so that the case can be resolved as quickly as possible. EPA remains confident regarding the outcome of the litigation,” the spokesperson said.

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