KNBA - KBC

11/25/14 - Federal judge temporarily halts EPA process to restrict or prohibit proposed Pebble Mine

Nov 24, 2014

U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel Holland Monday put a temporary hold on the EPA's 404(c) process on the Pebble Mine, a process that allows EPA to restrict or prohibit projects that could have adverse effects on fishery areas. EPA's February decision to initiate the process was based on a Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment it completed in January.

The Pebble Limited Partnership contends that while EPA was developing that assessment, it violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which ensures advisory committees are objective and accessible to the public.

"The preliminary injunction basically says that the EPA can't take further steps in their preemptive process against Pebble," says Pebble Partnership spokesperson Mike Heatwole, "until the merits of this case have more time in front of the court."

The EPA assessment had determined the infrastructure necessary to mine the Pebble deposit would have significant and irreversible negative impacts on the Bristol Bay watershed.

Trout Unlimited's Tim Bristol says the court ruling is disappointing.

"The people of the region, the people who depend upon that fishery for their livelihood," says Bristol, "I think after last week's announcement of a potential huge run, they were hopeful that we would have the Clean Water Act protections in place so, for the first time in a decade, they could go out there and fish and operate their businesses, and could get on their lives and not have the specter of Pebble hanging over their heads."

Court proceedings are expected to resume early next year.

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Representatives of the Alaska Native regional corporation Calista met with shareholders and descendants at the Cultural Center in Bethel earlier this month to discuss the details of an upcoming vote on whether to issue shares to "afterborns," or those born after December 1971. That's when newly formed Alaska Native corporations enrolled their shareholders.

As KYUK's Charles Enoch reports, Calista CEO Andrew Guy and board chair Willie Kasayulie shared details about how the decision will affect shareholders. They said issuing shares to afterborns will reduce the d0llar amount of dividends distributed to shareholders  by as much as two thirds. They said the  company will have added administrative costs.  And the shares issued to descendants would not be inheritable.

Shareholders will vote on the measure at the annual meeting, which is expected to be held during the summer.

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A correction to yesterday's newscast is in order. The number of people who served on Walker-Mallott transition teams was 246, not 234 as reported.