"State regulators violated the Alaska Constitution when they approved exploration permits for the proposed Pebble copper and gold mine without allowing the public to weigh in first, according to a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The suit was filed in Anchorage Superior Court by a coalition of eight Bristol Bay Native village corporations, former Alaska first lady Bella Hammond, state constitutional convention delegate Victor Fischer and several residents of Southwest Alaska villages.
The plaintiffs say a judge should throw out the exploration and temporary water-use permits for Pebble, a massive and controversial prospect in Southwest Alaska. They also want the judge to invalidate the state's permitting system for hard-rock mining exploration and block state regulators from issuing new permits for Pebble until the Legislature adopts a new permit system for mineral exploration.
The plaintiffs asked the court to halt exploration at Pebble until a judge makes a final ruling in the suit.
A state regulator on Wednesday said that contrary to the lawsuit's claims, the state is not required to gather public comments before granting permits for mineral exploration and water usage."