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Pebble Ltd. Partnership v. Parnell

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20221
Nos. Nos. S-13059, -13060, (Alaska, 09/18/2009)

The Alaska Supreme Court held that a proposed clean water initiative relating to the regulation of large-scale metallic mineral mines was constitutionally and statutorily permissible and was qualified to appear on a statewide 2008 election ballot. The initiative would not make a constitutionally impermissible appropriation by allocating or designating the use of state assets. If approved, the petition leaves to the legislature the state environmental and natural resource agencies the discretion to determine what amounts of specific toxic pollutants may or may not be discharged at a mining site. There is nothing clearly unconstitutional or clearly unlawful about regulating the discharge of toxic materials into state waters. Although it permits the use of public assets in support of its objective, it exhibits no explicit preference among potential users. Nor would it enact constitutionally impermissible local or special legislation. On its face, the initiative is of general statewide applicability. Further, the lieutenant governor's summary and cost statement of the initiative were impartial and accurate. A lower court's decision declining to enjoin the placement of the initiative on the ballot was therefore affirmed. Note: The court issued a dispositive order prior to the 2008 elections; the instant opinion explains its ruling. The initiative was rejected by Alaskan voters.