Mining News: News Nuggets: Pebble, EPA extend negotiations
Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. May 20 reported the Pebble Limited Partnership and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have filed a joint motion in federal court to extend a stay of proceedings to May 4 in ongoing litigation under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. In 2014, the Pebble Partnership had filed a suit, alleging EPA violated FACA by working inappropriately close to anti-Pebble groups as the regulatory agency built a case for placing restrictions on yet to be applied for permits for the development of a mine at the Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum deposit in Southwest Alaska. With the trial nearing its end, by October it had become apparent EPA and Pebble Partnership would likely reach an agreement that would settle this suit outside of the courtroom. To provide the parties time to negotiate, the court issued a stay of proceedings in this case until March 20. The latest motion extends this stay until May 4, providing the parties additional time to reach a settlement outside the courtroom. Pebble Partnership says it has made substantial progress in recent discussions with the EPA and intends to continue negotiating the matter directly, rather than through mediation. Northern Dynasty said government representatives are actively engaged in these discussions. In February, U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt asking him to rescind the 2014 decision to pre-emptively use Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to limit the scope of any potential mine developed at Pebble. “Active discussions between all parties involved have been positive and very constructive,” said Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier. “We remain confident in achieving a prompt and fair resolution that follows the rule of law, supports the interests of the parties involved and allows the Pebble project to move into a normal course permitting process.” In the meantime, a 2014 preliminary injunction ordering EPA to halt efforts to finalize the implementation of its plans to pre-emptively restrict Pebble permits remains in effect for the duration of the court ordered stay.