The Pacific Ocean Division (POD) of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has received requests for appeal from the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) and the State of Alaska, according to a spokesman from the POD.
The appeal follows a November 2020 decision by the Corps’ Alaska District to deny PLP a major permit necessary to build the Pebble mine. Earlier this week parent company Northern Dynasty Minerals announced it had submitted the request. On January 8 Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy said that the state would be submitting its own appeal as well. The requests will be assessed separately, according to regulations set out in 33 CFR 331.
This is the first time the State of Alaska has ever appealed a decision with the Corps, and it’s not certain it even has grounds to do so. According to the POD, “The Corps of Engineers’ Appeal regulation allows an affected party to pursue an administrative appeal of certain Corps of Engineers decisions with which they disagree. Only those individuals that meet the definition of an “affected party” can appeal those certain Corps decisions.”
POD will follow the appeal process to determine if the PLP and State of Alaska appeals are acceptable, including a determination of whether the State meets the definition of an “affected party.”
Up until this point, members of the public had access to many of the major documents related to the permitting process. However, don’t expect to see the content of either appeal unless they are released by PLP or the state.
How long will the process take?
The POD told Pebble Watch that the process is likely to take longer than the 90 days stipulated in the appeal process regulations (33 CFR 331):
“It is the policy of the Corps of Engineers to promote and maintain an administrative appeal process that is independent, objective, fair, prompt, and efficient. The regulation at 33 CFR 331 describes the Corps of Engineers administrative appeal process and identifies timeline goals for reaching the different milestones within the process while recognizing that unforeseen or unusual circumstances could lengthen the process. The regulation states that the Division Engineer will make a final decision on the appeal at the earliest practicable time and establishes a goal of completing the appeal process within 90 days of the receipt of an acceptable request for appeal. However, even for relatively simple appeals, that is an ambitious timeline. Given the volume and complexity of the information to consider for this particular appeal, it is expected that the process will extend well beyond 90 days to allow for the time necessary to reach an independent and fair decision on the merits of this appeal. That expectation notwithstanding, the Pacific Ocean Division remains committed to working as efficiently as possible to reach an objective and fair decision on the merits of this appeal.”
You can follow along with the process by reviewing this website, which details current and historic administrative appeals. The Request for Appeal document is not posted to the POD website, but the status is updated when an appeal is received, accepted, and a decision is made. Additionally, a copy of the appeal decision document is posted for each appeal where a decision is reached. As of today, the neither appeal had been processed and added to the site.
The Pebble Project – what’s next – we discuss timelines for the appeals process in this post
USACE Appeals Process – the nitty gritty of the appeals process
POD Appeals Website – quick link to stay up to date
PLP and the State of Alaska both released the appeals they submitted to the Corps: