SEATTLE — Trump administration officials broke the law when they reversed course and gave a green light to a proposed copper and gold mine near Alaska’s Bristol Bay, mining opponents said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Alaska Native, commercial fishing and economic development organizations said the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision July 30 to step aside and let the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determine whether to permit the Pebble Mine was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion” and illegal.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage is the latest challenge to the project that the EPA’s Seattle branch criticized in written comments July 1 before abruptly reversing course, withdrawing the agency’s option to block the proposed open-pit copper and gold mine.
Last year, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt decided to preserve the agency’s veto option over the Army Corps permitting process, saying that mining in Bristol Bay’s headwaters could risk harming the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.
Representatives of the groups that filed the suit said at a news conference Tuesday in Anchorage that the Trump administration’s reversal ignored years of EPA research and public comments.
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