Last September, Pebble filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Anchorage alleging that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the law by relying on opponents to the Pebble Mine during the public process for the agency’s review of the Bristol Bay watershed to determine the potential impacts of the Mine. The case survived a motion to dismiss and is now in the discovery phase.
One important limitation on the discovery process is that any information sought has to be relevant to the legal question in the case. Pebble’s claims against EPA are about EPA’s actions and communications and whether those actions violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The question for the court is whether EPA’s communications with opponents to the Pebble Mine were unlawful or whether EPA’s actions were simply part of a robust public process that Pebble itself participated in. In order to prove its case, Pebble has sought extensive documents and testimony from EPA. Pebble has also started casting an outrageously broad net and fishing for information from groups and individuals who are not parties to the lawsuit.
Pebble has noticed more than 60 subpoenas to groups, individuals, and organizations who are not part of Pebble’s lawsuit against EPA. A subpoena is the legal method for requesting documents or testimony from non-parties. Pebble’s target list includes Trustees for Alaska, the law firm representing many of Pebble’s political opponents. Pebble wants to see all of Trustees internal documents and correspondence with a long list of people (including some of our clients) about anything related to Bristol Bay. Pebble’s claims in the lawsuit—that EPA acted inappropriately—can’t be proven by digging around in Trustees for Alaska’s files or in the files of the other third parties targeted by Pebble.
Pebble’s Subpoena Notices includes individuals, regional and village corporations, national and local conservation organizations, universities, for-profit retailers, philanthropic foundations, investment companies, and several federal agencies. None of these individuals or groups can provide information that answers the question at issue in the litigation, which is whether or not EPA violated the law. Instead, these subpoenas appear to be designed to force the disclosure of private communications between groups and individuals who have been fighting the project and to intimidate many of Pebble’s political foes.
Trustees filed a motion to quash one of the subpoenas against one of our clients, Tim Troll. Read the Motion
Third Parties Subject to Pebble’s Subpoenas:
Trustees for Alaska
The Wilderness Society
Peter Van Tuyn*
The Nature Conservancy
E4 Strategic Solutions, Inc.
Bristol Bay Native Corporation
Alaska Conservation Foundation
Tiffany & Co.
Dutko Worldwide, Inc.
Bristol Bay Native Association, Inc.
Natural Resources Defense Council
Bristol Bay United
Renewable Resources Coalition
Renewable Resources Foundation
Ekwok Natives Limited
Wild Salmon Center
Kuipers & Associates
Stratus Consulting National Wildlife Federation
Ground Truth Trekking
Fisheries Research & Consulting
Pacific Rivers Council
Kenai River Center
Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska
Alaskans for Bristol Bay
United Fisherman of Alaska
River Management Society
Pew Charitable Trusts
Alaska Center for the Environment
Dallas Safari Club
U.S. National Park Service
American Fisheries Society
Trillium Asset Management Corp.
Calvert Investments, Inc.
Oregon State University
Kenai Peninsula College
University of Washington
University of Alaska
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Center for Science in Public Participation
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association
Alaska Independent Fisherman’s Marketing Association
National Parks and Conservation Association
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
* noticed for deposition