Federal Court Stops Hecla’s Rock Creek Mine
Judge Molloy said it was “arbitrary and capricious for agencies to not consider the environmental effects of phase 2 in their approval of phase 1 or adequately explain why the impacts of phase 2 could be omitted.” The plaintiffs challenged the agencies’ decision to analyze only phase 1 and the USFWS’s analysis and conclusions regarding grizzly bear mortality and mitigation measures. “Because plaintiffs succeed on their first argument, which will result in setting aside the existing decision documents, the court does not reach the merits of plaintiffs’ bear mortality challenge,” Molloy said in court documents.
In August 2018, the Forest Service issued its record of decision for the project and analyzed and approved phase 1 of the project. Removing phase 2 from consideration reduced the scope of the activity and potential environmental impacts, according to court documents. In 2019, the USFWS issued a new biological opinion relating to only phase 1 and withdrew all of its previous analyses and conclusions. The mine, proposed in the 1980s, has faced numerous legal battles. Hecla has not responded to the ruling.