Two more legal challenges brought to EPA's Pebble Mine actions

Sockeye salmon escape a brown bear in the Bristol Bay watershed.

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - One day after five regional groups representing Alaska Natives, commercial fisherman, and economic development organizations filed a suit, several environmental groups filed two separate lawsuits today alleging the that the Environmental Protection Agency violated environmental laws.

Trout Unlimited, a coldwater fisheries conservation organization with more than 300,000 members nationwide, filed its complaint Wednesday.

The lawsuit claims that the EPA "ignored science and the potential impacts of developing the mine when it withdrew the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination," the organization said in a news release.

Like the lawsuit brought by the five organizations representing local and commercial fishing interests, the Trout Unlimited suit alleges the EPA violated the Clean Water Act and the Administrative Procedures Act when it overturned a Proposed Determination ruling that had halted the progress of the mine.

"The proposed Pebble mine is widely opposed by anglers and hunters across Alaska and the country. This lawsuit is a step to hold the EPA accountable to their own science and American sportsmen and women, not a foreign-owned mining company," Alaska director for Trout Unlimited said in a release.

Trustees for Alaska, a legal non-profit that does work for environmental and Indigenous groups, filed a similar suit today over the withdrawal of the proposed determination.

The groups are the Alaska Center, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Alaska Wilderness League, Cook Inletkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of McNeil River, McNeil River Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, SalmonState, Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthworks and Wild Salmon Center.

The group SalmonState said went one step further and called for the EPA General Counsel Matthew Leopold to resign. Leopold wrote the June 26 memo that led to the withdrawal of the Proposed Determination, according to SalmonState.

Mike Heatwole, vice president for public affairs for the Pebble Partnership, dismissed the suits, saying that the EPA's preemptive veto was "bad public policy."

“The charges here are clearly without merit," he said, "As such, we believe it will be dismissed."

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