EPA has sent the following notice to the Federal Register for publication:
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Notice of Status Update on the Proposed Determination for the Pebble Deposit Area, Southwest Alaska
AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency.
ACTION: Notice of status update.
SUMMARY: On July 21, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Determination, under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, to restrict the use of certain waters in the South Fork Koktuli River, North Fork Koktuli River, and Upper Talarik Creek watersheds in Southwest Alaska as disposal sites for dredged or fill material associated with mining the Pebble deposit, a copper-, gold-, and molybdenum-bearing ore body. On September 19, 2014, EPA published in the Federal Register a notice extending the time period to either withdraw the Proposed Determination or to prepare the Recommended Determination until no later than February 4, 2015. As part of ongoing litigation brought by the Pebble Limited Partnership, on November 25, 2014, a Federal District Court Judge issued a preliminary injunction that requires EPA to stop all work connected to the 404(c) proceeding, including reviewing and considering public comments. EPA is complying with the court’s order and as such is not taking any steps to withdraw the Proposed Determination or to prepare a Recommended Determination while the preliminary injunction is in place.
Dated: January 21, 2015.
Dennis J. McLerran,
EPA Region 10.
[FR Doc. 2015-01701 Filed 01/28/2015 at 8:45 am; Publication Date: 01/29/2015]
EPA has been barred from doing any work on its potential veto of a permit for a controversial gold mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
"[D]efendants must stop all work connected to the 404(c) proceeding. Defendants may not engage in any activities related to the 404(c) process," U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland said in a Dec. 4 ruling. That order followed his issuance of a preliminary injunction Nov. 25 that said basically the same thing:
Defendants Environmental Protection Agency and Gina McCarthy, in her official capacity as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and those parties’ officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, as well as other persons who are in active concert or participation with the foregoing, are enjoined and restrained from taking any action in furtherance of a decision to veto a possible Pebble (Bristol Bay area) mine project pursuant to Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act until after the court has ruled on the merits of plaintiff’s complaint. More particularly, defendants and the regional administrator for EPA Region 10 shall not issue any recommendation on a pending proposed determination regarding the Pebble Mine project until after the court has ruled on the merits of plaintiff’s complaint.
"Based upon extant case law, the court concludes that plaintiff will have no remedy for claimed Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) violations and will therefore suffer irreparable harm if it is not permitted to litigate its FACA claims prior to final agency action on the pending Section 404(c) proceedings," the judge said Nov. 25.
EPA can file a brief by today on the issue of security, if it so desires, the judge said in his Dec. 4 clarification. (Update 12/14: The agency did not, according to the docket.)
The partnership proposing the mine has alleged that EPA violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act by reaching a predetermined conclusion on the veto.
The Pebble Limited Partnership "has raised concerns regarding FACA violations--including that EPA secretly colluded with environmental activists to bring about a predetermined result before undertaking any scientific inquiry--entirely based on the select documents that EPA has disclosed in response to Freedom of Information Act requests," Northern Dynasty Minerals said in a statement following the judge's Nov. 25 ruling.
The case is Pebble Mine Partnership v. EPA (14-171-HRH, D. Alaska). More links on Holland are here. Scroll down for the injunction and, after that, some more links, including Northern Dynasty Minerals' statement.