Pebble asks to subpoena former EPA official

Photo by Jason Sear, KDLG - Dillingham
Photo by Jason Sear, KDLG – Dillingham

The Pebble Limited Partnership is asking for a former Environmental Protection Agency official to be subpoenaed as part of the lawsuit over the agency’s alleged violation of federal regulations.

In an August 17 motion, lawyers for the Pebble Partnership asked a federal court to subpoena former EPA employee Phillip North.

According to court documents, North is believed to reside in Australia. In the motion, the partnership asserts that North worked with Federal Advisory Committees on use of the Clean Water Act to prevent the development of the mine.

The motion also says North collaborated with other entities on the Tribes’ eventual petition to the EPA.

The lawsuit, which was brought by the partnership, asserts that the EPA violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and the motion alleges that North was an important figure in that activity.

According to the motion, some records of North’s work at the EPA is no longer available, and he shut down his personal email on which some of the alleged communication is said to have occurred, so he needs to testify in person about his activities.

Essentially, the partnership says the EPA acted improperly in its communication and coordination with other entities on the EPA’s consideration of a Clean Water Act designation. The partnership wants to develop a mine there; the EPA’s proposed designation would prevent that by restricting the use of certain waters in the Bristol Bay watershed for disposing of dredged and fill material from the mine.

A decision on the proposed designation is on hold due to the lawsuit.

In an email, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, which is representing the EPA in the lawsuit, declined to comment on the motion. An EPA spokeswoman also told KDLG News that her agency wasn’t commenting on the filing, as its part of ongoing litigation.

The Pebble filing says that the organization discussed the motion with counsel for the defendant in the case, which is the EPA, and they didn’t oppose it.

A lawyer for the partnership also did not respond to a call from KDLG News.

The case is in front of Federal District Court Judge H. Russel Holland, who denied the EPA’s motion to dismiss the case in June.