Pebble Mine: SCOTUS Denies Original Review of EPA Veto

In the latest defeat for the embattled Bristol Bay mining scheme, the Supreme Court unanimously rejects the Dunleavy Administration’s motion for review.

Justices of the United States Supreme Court 

This morning, in a brief order issued without recorded dissent, the United States Supreme Court declined review of the Dunleavy Administration’s motion to file a bill of complaint based on the state’s claim of original jurisdiction in the High Court.  Filed in July, the state’s unprecedented application would have bypassed the normal appellate review process established by Congress for review of agency decisions and sought instead a decision in the first instance by a Court whose conservative majority has reversed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in two recent decisions. 

Here, in its entirety, is today’s order rejecting the state’s cynical “Hail Mary” application:

“157, ORIG. ALASKA V. UNITED STATES, ET AL. The motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied.”

This is welcome news for the Tribes of Bristol Bay and the unprecedented coalition of stakeholders that have supported their opposition to the Pebble Mine for many years.  But it does not mean that the inevitable legal challenges to EPA’s veto from the destructive project’s Canadian owner Northern Dynasty Minerals and its longtime disciple Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy will not eventually be filed.  It means only that the challenges must first be heard beginning in federal district court or, in the case of a claim for “taking of state property without just compensation,” in the Federal Court of Claims.  Both Northern Dynasty and the Dunleavy Administration have indicated their intention to do so.

The Supreme Court’s decision is just the latest setback for a project that has compiled a virtually unprecedented record of failure over decades, including a permit denial from the Trump Administration in 2020 and the issuance of a rare veto by the Biden Administration in 2023.  Alaska’s entire congressional delegation opposes the project, and all of the major mining company partners that in 2010 were part of the Pebble Limited Partnership have abandoned the project.

The people of Bristol Bay and all of their allies in Alaska, in the other 49 states, and around the world have made clear their immutable determination to fight this project for as long as it takes to win – to defend the world’s most productive wild salmon fishery and the people, communities, and wildlife that the fishery sustains. While today’s Supreme Court order is the latest example of the Tribes’ success, the continuing threat posed by this reckless zombie project, opposed for decades by a strong majority of Alaskans, demonstrates the need, ultimately, for federal legislation to permanently protect Bristol Bay from the Canadian mining company that has mercilessly stalked the region’s communities for a generation. 

Without congressional action, the only certainty for Bristol Bay’s future will continue to be the inevitable pressure for large-scale mining in its headwaters despite all efforts to preserve this national treasure forever.

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