Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Alaska-based Pebble Ltd. Partnership (Pebble Partnership) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have filed a joint notice in federal court stating their intent to enter into mediation to resolve ongoing litigation under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).
In September 2014, the Pebble Partnership in federal district court in Alaska alleged that the EPA violated FACA by its close interactions with, and the undue influence of, environmental nongovernment organizations (ENGOs) and antimine activists in developing the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, and its unprecedented, pre-emptive regulatory action under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. In November 2014, a federal court judge granted the Pebble Partnership request for a preliminary injunction in the FACA case, prohibiting the EPA from taking any further steps toward finalizing its 404(c) regulatory action, and signaling that its case had a likelihood of succeeding on its merits.
While discovery and other preparations for court proceedings in the FACA litigation will continue, the joint notice filed in federal court indicates the willingness of both parties to work toward a negotiated resolution to the current impasse.
“Northern Dynasty and the EPA share a strong conviction that any mine developed at Pebble must meet the highest environmental standards, and protect the fisheries resources of southwest Alaska, or it should not be permitted,” said Ron Thiessen, president and CEO. “We are optimistic that a resolution can now be found through mediation that will allow Pebble to propose a development plan for the project, and advance into the federal and state permitting process.”
Selection of a mediator will be undertaken jointly by the EPA and the Pebble Partnership, with mediation talks expected to begin in Washington, D.C., this fall.