State Files to Protect Permitting Processes from Premature EPA Veto
May 30, 2014 (Anchorage, Alaska) – The State of Alaska today sought to intervene in a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prevent the EPA from taking land by prematurely limiting development before the state’s permitting processes have a chance to work. The Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) brought the original lawsuit against the EPA last week. The State of Alaska believes the case has far reaching implications for all state and federal lands.
“Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the EPA seeking to veto a hypothetical project before any permit application has been filed, is that it sets precedent for the EPA to take land anywhere in the United States and prematurely limit development of a valuable resource,” Attorney General Michael Geraghty said. “The EPA’s action undermines Alaska’s ability to utilize its mineral resources to grow the economy and create jobs if, after detailed and lengthy environmental review, permitting is warranted.”
In the motion, the State asserts that the EPA has overstepped its limited statutory authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act by attempting to veto any development before a permit application has been submitted. The state believes the EPA’s overreach infringes on the state’s role in regulating land and water uses within its borders.
Even the EPA acknowledges that its action is unprecedented in the history of the Clean Water Act. Normally, several State agencies and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would review a proposed mineral resource project, requiring over 50 different permits, including appropriate conditioning and mitigation to minimize environmental impacts while allowing the productive management of State mineral resources. EPA’s overreach infringes on the State’s primary role.
The other parties will have an opportunity to respond to the State’s request to intervene, and then the Alaska federal district court will decide whether to grant the State’s request.