Pebble withdraws more third party subpoenas

The Pebble Partnership has dropped many of its subpoenas to individuals and organizations it believes may have communicated with the Environmental Protection Agency regarding protections for the Bristol Bay watershed as part of Pebble’s lawsuit alleging the agency acted improperly.

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After last week’s decision by federal district court judge H. Russel Holland that quashed some of Pebble’s subpoenas, saying they “pushed the envelope,” Pebble Partnership spokesman Mike Heatwole says the company has withdrawn some of its other requests to comply with that order.

“Well for now, it’s probably important to just emphasize that we’re going to focus our discovery efforts on the EPA, and as our filing indicated, that if we conclude that there’s a need for nonparty discovery, we intend to pursue that.”

Trustees for Alaska represents a handful of those whose subpoenaed: Nunamta Aulukestai, Cook Inletkeeper, Ground Truth Trekking, Kim Williams, Tim Troll and Tom Tilden. All have been dropped. Staff attorney Michelle Sinnott says that’s good news.

“These are people who love Bristol Bay, who have been working really hard to protect a world class watershed. This is their backyard. These are things they care about. And to be drawn into this federal litigation, it’s very expensive.”

The Pebble Limited Partnership wants to build what could be the world’s largest gold and copper mine in Bristol Bay, and the EPA has worked to use Clean Water Act protections to prevent that from happening. But Pebble says the agency violated federal rules in its efforts to do so, and had previously requested to subpoena more than 60 individuals and groups to help prove its case.

Other withdrawn subpoenas include the Natural Resources Defense Council, Shoren Brown who formerly worked on Trout Unlimited’s campaign to protect Bristol Bay, and some out-of-state consulting groups.

Other subpoenas remain, although Heatwole says the company intends to withdraw them.

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