National Wildlife Federation Files Lawsuit to Protect Alaska from a Massive, Toxic Mining Project

Lawsuit is the First Case Vermont Law School Environmental Advocacy Clinic Is Handling Through New Partnership

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Environmental Protection Agency illegally withdrew a proposed determination that would have effectively blocked the hazardous Pebble Mine in Alaska, the National Wildlife Federation alleged today in a new lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Alaska. The National Wildlife Federation’s lawsuit would compel the EPA to put back in place a determination that the Pebble Mine — a massive copper and gold mine in the heart of Bristol Bay, the world’s most productive salmon fishery — would pose undue adverse impacts to this treasured ecosystem that supports native and local communities. 

“Every scientific analysis shows that mining for gold and copper upstream of Bristol Bay would devastate world-class salmon runs, poison pristine waters, degrade wildlife habitat, and shatter the way of life of local tribes and communities,” said Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. "This lawsuit is essential to stopping the EPA’s reckless flip-flop from irreparably ruining one of the last pristine ecosystems in North America and the world.”

In addition to being represented by the Environmental Advocacy Clinic, National Wildlife Federation is also being represented by Trustees of Alaska.  The other litigants in the Pebble Mine case, which are being represented by the public interest law firms Trustees of Alaska or Earthjustice, are SalmonState, Alaska Center, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Alaska Wilderness League, Cook Inletkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthworks, Friends of McNeil River, McNeil River Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and Wild Salmon Center. 

The lawsuit is the first where the Vermont Law School Environmental Advocacy Clinic, formerly known as the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, will represent National Wildlife Federation as part of a new partnership between the organization and Vermont Law School

Starting this fall, the Environmental Advocacy Clinic at Vermont Law School will serve as legal counsel to National Wildlife Federation in their high impact legal cases and policy advocacy — offering the organization a powerful partner in protecting wildlife, habitat and our natural resources while also training the next generation of conservation advocates. Through this partnership, National Wildlife Federation’s Legal Advocacy Director, Jim Murphy, will also serve as Director of the Environmental Advocacy Clinic.

“The National Wildlife Federation is an iconic figure in natural resource conservation in this country. National Wildlife Federation’s national reach and depth of knowledge and history on natural resource advocacy make it the perfect organization to partner with our Environmental Advocacy Clinic, which has its roots in these very issues” said Jennifer Rushlow, Associate Dean for Environmental Programs at Vermont Law School. “Through this partnership, our students will co-pilot National Wildlife Federation cases, driving key policy and environmental outcomes across the country.”

“This exciting partnership will strengthen the National Wildlife Federation’s legal capacity to address the wildlife crisis and ensure our bedrock environmental laws are applied and enforced to protect habitat, people, and vulnerable communities,” Murphy said. “Whether it is protecting America’s most treasured places like the rich salmon fisheries of the Bristol Bay, advancing responsible stewardship of our public and working lands, or protecting our most vulnerable communities, this partnership will help the National Wildlife Federation and its 52 state and territorial affiliates recover wildlife. We welcome the opportunity to work more closely with the nation’s premier environmental law school and the leading legal minds at Vermont Law School.”


Get Involved

Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

Learn More
Regional Centers and Affiliates