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Dillingham, AK – After hearing over an hour of oral argument Monday morning, District Court Judge H. Russell Holland ordered a temporary injunction to assess Pebble’s claims that EPA’s use of its Watershed Assessment Plan violated aspects of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
In his oral ruling Monday, Judge Holland referred to Pebble’s Complaint as failing to comply with federal court practice and determined that two of Pebble’s three claims were not likely to succeed on the merits. On the final claim, the judge stated that it had a “plausible” likelihood of success and permitted Pebble to clarify its allegations and re-file its Complaint for further consideration.
Although Monday’s decision may temporally delay the decade-long effort by Alaska Native Tribes, commercial, and sports fish groups to protect the Bristol Bay watershed from large-scale mines like Pebble, it is far from certain that it will have any impact on EPA’s decision to exercise its 404(c) authority. Nonetheless, the cloud of uncertainty does not sit well with folks in the region.
“It is unfortunate that Judge Holland does not see harm in delaying a final decision that would provide our residents the peace of mind they have been waiting on for nearly a decade. With a record breaking fishing season forecasted for next year, our people want to look forward to a future with out Pebble threatening their way of life,” said Alannah Hurley, Executive Director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay.