Panel upholds dismissal of Pebble case as premature

An appeals court panel has upheld a decision that dismissed as premature a lawsuit brought against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by the group behind the proposed Pebble Mine.

The lawsuit was brought over a process that EPA initiated last year that could result in development of the massive gold and copper prospect being restricted or prohibited. The project is near the headwaters of a world-premier salmon fishery.

A federal judge in Anchorage last September dismissed the case as premature, saying the decision to initiate the process could not be considered a final agency action. On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

The decision came as a judge in Anchorage heard arguments in another case brought by Pebble against EPA.