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Federal judge rejects Pebble’s bid to block EPA

By Rhonda McBride 1:09 PM September 26, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

Another setback for the Pebble Mine project. A federal judge has rejected its lawsuit to block the Environmental Protection Agency from pursuing a pre-emptive veto of the mine.

Earlier this year, the EPA put Pebble on notice that it was taking the rare step of blocking the mine under a section of the Clean Water Act.

After hearing arguments from both sides this morning, U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland said the EPA could proceed with its process — that the Pebble Partnership’s lawsuit is premature because the EPA hasn’t made a final decision on the mine.

Pebble argued the EPA shouldn’t be allowed to veto the project until its finished its development plan. An attorney for the state supported Pebble’s case, arguing the EPA’s action has altered the normal state-federal regime for permitting.

Heather Kendall Miller, an attorney who represents Bristol Bay area tribes that are fighting the mine, called the judge’s decision a victory for the people of Alaska who have made it clear they don’t want this project.

Mike Heatwole, a spokesman for the Pebble Partnership, said Holland’s decision is a loss for not just his company, but all resource development. Heatwole said it’s not clear if the EPA’s pre-emptive veto process is legal and that question should have been decided first, before going forward.

–This is a developing story.

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