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Pebble Limited Partnership v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20220
Nos. 3:14-cv-0097, (D. Alaska, 09/26/2014) (Holland, J.)

A district court dismissed a lawsuit challenging EPA's initiation of CWA §404(c) proceedings for the proposed Pebble Mine project, a large copper and gold mine in the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska. Alaska, which owns the land, as well as the company that owns the underlying mineral rights filed the suit after EPA issued a letter on February 28, 2014, stating that it would begin its review and consultation process. Alaska and the company claimed that EPA exceeded its authority by initiating §404(c) proceedings in the absence of a permit application. They also claimed that the proceedings violated state law. But the initiation of §404(c) proceedings does not constitute final agency action. EPA's letter does not represent the consummation of the Agency’s decisionmaking process, but rather the commencement of the Agency’s decisionmaking process. Nor does EPA's decision to initiate §404(c) proceedings create rights or obligations from which legal consequences will flow. The court, therefore, lacks subject matter jurisdiction.