Spring 2014 News Roundup: EPA watershed assessment, PLP suit

In the last few months, most news related to development of the Pebble mine has revolved around the EPA, its 404(c) action and response from Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP). Here’s a quick summary of the major events, along with some of the news stories about them.

404(c) process begins

On February 28, EPA announces its intent to begin the 404(c) process under the Clean Water Act to limit or restrict development at the Pebble deposit in Bristol Bay, based on the results of the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment.

Leaders, stakeholders react after EPA’s Pebble mine announcement (Alaska Dispatch)

EPA tells miners to keep out of Alaska’s Bristol Bay and they aren’t buying it (Business Week online)

Senators seek to limit EPA authority

On March 25, Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduce Senate Bill 2156, the “Regulatory Fairness Act,” which would change the language of the Clean Water Act by limiting the timeframe in which EPA could pursue the 404(c) process. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski signs on as a co-sponsor.

PLP argues against 404(c) process and Watershed Assessment

On April 29, PLP responds to EPA at the end of the 404(c) “Consultation Period” with a 60-page document arguing that the process is flawed and should be abandoned.

Internal investigation launched into Watershed Assessment process 

On May 2, EPA’s Office of Inspector General launches an internal investigation to determine whether the agency followed the proper procedures when developing the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment.

Inspector General to probe EPA’s ‘preemptive veto’ on Pebble (Mineweb.com)

EPA watchdog reviewing agency’s work on Bristol Bay and Pebble mine (Anchorage Daily News)

Pebble cites EPA emails in claim assessment was biased (Alaska Journal of Commerce)

PLP files suit against EPA

On May 22, PLP files a civil suit in the U.S. District Court for Alaska against EPA and Dennis McClerran, Region 10 supervisor, for “violating federal law,” and asks for an injunction against EPA for its use of the 404(c) process.

Pebble sues EPA over attempt to veto mine (Alaska Journal)

Mine Lawsuit – EPA authority under Clean Water Act challenged (The Cordova Times)

Mining News: Watchdog, court eyes alleged misconduct (North of 60 Mining News)