Pebble Limited Partnership, the company behind the efforts to construct the Pebble Mine in Alaska, scored a legal victory of sorts when U.S. District Judge Russel Holland allowed part of the company’s lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to proceed.
The EPA contested the lawsuit that accuses the agency of acting improperly in its actions to try to block the project. Hollands ruling sets the stage for a prolonged legal battle between the EPA and Pebble, which is seeking to build a multibillion-dollar open-pit mine that would produce significant amounts of copper and gold for decades to come, Reuters reported.
The Pebble Limited Partnership said in federal court the EPA formed three advisory committees and then failed to adhere to specific transparency requirements under the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
Pebble said the committees are part of a predetermined effort to kill the project, located some 320 km (200 miles) southwest of Anchorage near the headwaters of the world's largest salmon fishery.
Those committees influenced the outcome of a watershed report that ultimately placed additional restrictions on the company's efforts to obtain permits, Pebble said.
"We are convinced the EPA has pursued a biased process against our project that then drove their actions toward a predetermined outcome," Pebble Chief Executive Officer Tom Collier said in a statement.
"Our fight with the EPA has been about a fair and transparent process for objectively evaluating a development plan for our project," he added, calling the ruling a "significant victory."
In an emailed statement, the EPA deferred comment to the U.S. Department of Justice, which did not provide a response.