Court Decision in Bristol Bay Forever Case May Be Challenged

Plaintiffs in failed litigation to keep off the ballot an
initiative to require legislative approval of mining activities in the Alaska’s
Bristol Bay region are evaluating whether to appeal the court’s decision, counsel
for the pro-mining litigants says.
But no decision has been made yet and the deadline for filing
such a challenge won’t be established until the Alaska Superior Court enters a
fee order or a new final judgment, said Matt Singer, an Anchorage attorney. Singer
represented the plaintiffs, including mining consultant Richard Hughes, the
Alaska Miners Association and the Council of Alaska Producers in the case
against former Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and the state of Alaska.
The Superior Court decision handed down Jan. 28 awarded fees
of nearly $64,000 to intervenors in the case on the side of the state, three
residents who sponsored the initiative. The Superior Court noted in its
decision that plaintiffs’ council had stated in oral arguments on attorney’s
fees that plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees were being paid by the Pebble Limited
Partnership, Alaska Miners Association and Council of Alaska Producers, and
that the PLP had agreed to indemnify plaintiffs for any fees awarded against
them in the case.
The decision is related to an Alaska Supreme Court decision
in which the justices ruled in favor of the state and initiative sponsors.
While the high court had issued its decision last year, it released a lengthy
opinion on Jan. 30 explaining how it reached that decision.
The Renewable Resources Coalition, an Alaska group whose
stated purpose is to preserve and protect the viability of Alaska’s abundant
fishing and hunting resources, and lands and waters they need to survive,
hailed the Supreme Court’s opinion on its decision as validation of the Bristol
Bay Forever initiative.

In last November’s general election, 65 percent of voters
approved the initiative.