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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Miners Claim EPA Colluded With Greens

ANCHORAGE (CN) - An Alaskan group that claims a copper mine there will create 15,000 jobs and produce $64 billion worth of minerals sued the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming it held secret meetings with mine opponents and is withholding documents about it.

The Pebble Limited Partnership sued the U.S. EPA on Oct. 14 in Federal Court. It claims the EPA responded inadequately to a Freedom of Information Act request aimed at finding collusion between the agency and environmental organizations.

The Anchorage-based miners claim there is an "ongoing effort of EPA to pre-judge and block PLP's Pebble Mine project in Alaska."

The Pebble Mine deposit is believed to hold tremendous amounts of low-grade copper, gold and molybdenum.

The mining group claims the EPA responded to its FOIA request with "an inadequate search for responsive documents," excessive redactions in documents it did release, and improper withholding of documents.

It asks the court to order the EPA to disclose wrongfully withheld or redacted documents because "certain records evidence government misconduct."

The FOIA request asked for documents regarding the communications of 10 agency personnel, including Administrator Lisa Jackson; communications between the EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Council, Trout Unlimited, Bristol Bay Native Corporation and Bristol Bay Region Seafood Development Association; and communications between the EPA and junior senator, and former mayor of Anchorage, Mark Begich and his chief of staff and a legislative assistant.

"[The] EPA's response to date does not include any communications from administrator Jackson, whether from her official or personal email accounts," the complaint cites states. "Other missing documents include presentations and agendas to meetings and briefings that produced documents confirm took place."

The complaint quotes from a memorandum opinion in Landmark Legal Foundation V. EPA, pending in District of Columbia Federal Court: "Pending litigation in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia is considering, 'the possibility that leaders in the EPA may have purposefully attempted to skirt disclosure.'"

Landmark Legal Foundation's president is conservative radio host Mark Levin.

Pebble Limited Partnership is owned by Northern Dynasty Minerals, a Vancouver-based company that owns mineral rights to the Pebble site.

The proposed mine project, which sits on state-controlled land, holds what is estimated to be the world's largest undeveloped deposit of copper ore and, according to the complaint, if "approved, it would create 15,000 jobs, contribute $64 billion to U.S. gross domestic product and generate approximately $18 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues."

The mining group is represented by Thomas Amodio in Anchorage, and Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, D.C.

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