Jun 042015

U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland has found it "plausible" that the Federal Advisory Committee Act applies to opponents of the Pebble Mine in Alaska (Pebble Limited Partnership v. EPA, 14-171-HRH, D. Alaska).

"The three 'committees' that plaintiff alleges [EPA] established or utilized in violation of FACA are identified by plaintiff as 1) the Anti-Mine Coalition, 2) the Anti-Mine Scientists, and 3) the Anti-Mine Assessment Team," the judge said in his order, issued Thursday, June 4.

"Plaintiff alleges that defendants violated FACA as to each of these three 'committees' because defendants did not, among other things, (1) prepare and file charters, (2) chair all the meetings, (3) publish notices of meetings, and (4) ensure that membership in the committees was fairly balanced."

Although the agency did not "establish" the "committees," it may have "utilized" them, the judge said.

The company behind the mine proposal hailed the decision (press release).

The judge denied a motion for injunctive relief, in which the mine proponent sought to prevent EPA from using information from any of the "illegal" committees.

The federal judge's decision comes a few days after the Alaska Supreme Court issued a decision in favor of opponents. See coverage from Alaska Dispatch News, which also wrote about this decision