State asks U.S. Supreme Court to reverse EPA’s veto of Pebble Mine

U.S. Supreme Court (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

The state of Alaska is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to resurrect the proposed Pebble Mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay. 

The state attorney general, with the help of a private law firm on contract, on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to repeal a January decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that in essence vetoed the mine. 

Pebble would be a massive open-pit copper and gold mine on state land. The deposit is located upstream from Bristol Bay, Alaska’s most productive sockeye salmon fishery. The company hoping to develop it, Pebble Limited Partnership, says their mine design would ensure contaminants don’t degrade the fishery.

The state argues that the EPA “confiscated state property and created a de facto national park.”

It’s asking the court to either toss the agency’s decision or order the government to compensate the state for the property.

A coalition of tribes, fishermen and conservation groups who have fought the mine say the state is engaging in legal antics to help the Pebble Partnership.

“It’s a highly unusual legal move, and also a highly unpopular one,” said Earthjustice attorney Carole Holley, who noted the mine is particularly unpopular in Bristol Bay.

The Supreme Court is not obligated to take up the case.

RELATED: A large gold mine you’ve probably never heard of is quietly preparing to start production in Interior Alaska, despite critics’ objections

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her Read more about Lizhere.

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