Anchorage, AK; June 24, 2024: Today, Iliamna Natives Limited and Alaska Peninsula Corporation — which represent small native communities in Southwest Alaska — filed a lawsuit against the EPA for exceeding its authority in vetoing a mining development.

“The EPA doesn’t get to veto any development project it doesn’t like,” said Damien Schiff, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “When Congress wants to give an agency power, it must also give it specific instructions on how and when that power can be used. EPA claims unlimited discretion: that is unconstitutional.”

Iliamna and Alaska Peninsula had contracted to provide various services to a mining company that had plans to develop a copper, molybdenum, and gold mine near their communities. Those contracts created real opportunities for full employment to villages that had previously been suffering diasporas due to chronic lack of economic opportunities and enabled the village corporations to grow — providing a desperately needed financial lifeline to their communities. The promise of the mine made Iliamna the largest employer in the area and allowed Alaska Peninsula to pay benefits to its shareholders for the first time in years.

But then the EPA vetoed the mine project because it claimed that it would have an unacceptable adverse effect on salmon fisheries — a conclusion contradicted by the Army Corps of Engineers’ findings. The EPA claims that Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act gives it the power to decide what counts as “adverse” or “unacceptable” effects without clearly defining these terms, essentially giving it a blank check to stop projects it doesn’t like.

The case is Iliamna Natives Limited, e al. v. EPA, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska.


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Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit law firm that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 18 wins of 20 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.

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