The Pebble Limited Partnership has filed its third lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, charging that the agency—which has increasingly taken an antimine stance—has given “incomplete” responses to its Freedom of Information Act requests.
Many of the delivered documents, which cover the EPA’s decision to block the proposed gold and copper mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, were heavily redacted, the Pebble Limited Partnership complained in a lawsuit filed Oct. 14 in Alaska federal court. The company is owned by Canadian miner Northern Dynasty Minerals, which is now the mine’s sole backer.
The suit also seeks access to EPA officials’ text messages and private emails that relate to the Pebble project.
The company’s complaint builds on a previous suit, filed in September, which charges that the EPA’s ongoing skepticism toward the project stems from “backroom influence peddling” from antimine activists.
That suit argued that EPA officials’ “nonpublic and secretive” meetings with mine opponents violate the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which calls for governmental advisory committees’ members and activities to be made public.
“EPA wanted to kill the mine before it ever got off the ground,” the complaint says, calling the EPA’s starkly negative assessment of the mine “a sham.”
The EPA could not be reached for comment. It had not filed a response to the suit at press time.
This suit is the latest skirmish in Pebble and the EPA’s prolonged war of attrition. It marks the mine’s third suit against the government bureau, since the latter decided to invoke a rarely used provision of the Clear Water Act to halt the controversial project. One prior suit, a challenge to the EPA’s authority to invoke the provision, was put on hold by a federal judge on Sept. 26, barring a final decision by the EPA.