Bristol Bay groups representing native tribes, residents and fishermen filed a lawsuit in Anchorage's federal district court Tuesday challenging an Environmental Protection Agency decision announced in July of this year.

The decision pulled back on an earlier EPA proposal under the Clean Water Act that would have blocked the mine from going forward. When that proposal was made in 2014, the EPA said the risks to salmon were too great.

Groups filing the lawsuit said the change in course was pressured by the Trump administration and was illegal.

The press conference took place in front of the Federal Court Building in Anchorage

"By attempting to remove those protections, the administration not only broke the law, it made clear that local people have no voice in the management of our rivers, our streams and wetlands," said Ralph Andersen, Bristol Bay Native Association President and CEO.

Norm Van Vactor, President and CEO of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, called the permitting process for the mine "completely broken." He said his group didn't enter into the lawsuit lightly, calling it a "recourse of last resort."

In responding to the legal action, Pebble Partnership spokesperson Mike Heatwole said he believed the lawsuit would be dismissed.

"We think the case is without merit as the EPA acted appropriately," he said.

The mine is waiting on a key decision from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that should come in early 2020. The Corps released a draft environmental review on the Pebble proposal this year that received considerable criticism during public hearings. The final review could be released as early as February.

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