Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. has announced that the Pebble Ltd. Partnership is suing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials in Alaskan U.S. District Court, claiming they exceeded their authority under the Clean Water Act by blocking the Pebble gold-copper project before permitting applications were completed.

Company representatives said that, beginning in Q1 2014, the agency exceeded its mandate while violating Alaska’s Statehood Act, among other statutes; the partnership is a coalition of businesses and indigenous groups supporting the mine. “At this point, we have little choice but petition to halt a process contrary to law,” said Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen; Pebble lies 200 miles southwest of Anchorage on state land designated for mineral exploration and development.  

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy declined immediate comment, but in Q1 voiced concerns over environmental degradation of an Alaskan salmon fishery that is “an extraordinary resource, and worthy of out-of-the-ordinary agency actions to protect it.”

The Partnership, Alaska officials, and other stakeholders are urging the EPA to await a development proposal and impact statement review. “EPA’s unilateral precedent will have long-term effects on business in Alaska and throughout the United States,” added Thiessen in a statement.

A 2013 IHS Global Insight study cited by Northern Dynasty found Pebble could support 15,000 American jobs while contributing more than $2.5 billion to GDP over decades nationwide. In Q3 2013, global miner Anglo American Plc quit the contentious project, and in Q2 Rio Tinto pledged its 19.1% interest in the project toward charity.