FROM TU ALASKA:
U.S. District Court Judge Holland today released a ruling in a lawsuit filed by the Pebble Limited Partnership. The ruling allows the case to proceed into discovery and temporarily keeps the Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to protect Bristol Bay on hold. Judge Holland did not rule on the merits of the claims, but only that the claims are plausible, and could not be dismissed, as the Environmental Protection Agency had requested in its motion.
Though Pebble has succeeded in temporarily delaying the protections proposed by the EPA, the facts remain: the EPA has authority under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay; the people of Bristol Bay and Alaska overwhelmingly oppose the Pebble mine; and if built, Pebble would harm the region’s incredible wild salmon runs.
“Today’s court ruling does not in any way change the fact that putting a giant mine on top of Bristol Bay’s salmon runs remains a horrible idea. The science has made this clear and Alaskans have repeated over and over again that Pebble is
the wrong mine in the wrong place,” said Brian Kraft, owner of three sport-fishing lodges in Bristol Bay. “Pebble’s sue-happy strategy is a slap in the face to the Alaskans who depend on Bristol Bay salmon.”
In addition, today’s ruling in no way confirms that the allegations made by Pebble Limited Partnership are true. Instead, it means that the claims of both sides must be considered before the Judge can come to a conclusion on the matter.
“We hope this will be addressed as quickly as possible since tens of thousands of Alaskans who depend on Bristol Bay for jobs, income and a way of life continue suffer from the same uncertainty they have had to endure for over a decade now,” said Tim Bristol, manager for Trout Unlimited’s Alaska program. “At this point, it’s clear that the Pebble Limited Partnership is less a mine exploration company, and more a collection of highly-paid lawyers and lobbyists whose jobs are to delay Clean Water Act protections for salmon. When the science didn’t add up and Pebble overwhelmingly lost in the court of public opinion, they set out to derail the public process through waves of litigation.”
Pebble Limited Partnership has now shed most of its mining operations, selling off equipment this spring.
“We are confident that this lawsuit will result in the confirmation that the EPA conducted a fair process to protect Bristol Bay salmon and jobs from the threats posted by Pebble Mine,” said Bristol. “We look forward to another productive fishing season this summer and will continue to hope and fight for the day when the world-class fishery will be free from the threat of Pebble mine.”
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. There are four chapters and thousands of members and supporters in Alaska. Follow Trout Unlimited on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at www.savebristolbay.org.