IPOP sues U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – again

By Megan Gannon
IPOP is continuing its legal battle with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Nevada-based group and two of its elderly investors have sued the federal agency over its decision to deny permits for their proposal to mine for gold in Bonanza Channel and Safety Sound. The civil lawsuit was filed on Jan. 23 in the U.S District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, the home state of the investors. In May 2022, IPOP and the same two investors had filed a civil lawsuit alleging that the Corps was creating “outrageous delays” in its permitting process. Now IPOP and the two investors, Edward and Elaine Abell, have filed another civil suit against the Corps, this time claiming that the September permit denial is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law” and thus should be found unlawful.
The suit lists grievances against the Corps alleging that the agency “by all appearances attempted deliberately to obstruct the project and in favor of the private interests of certain project opponents.”
The plaintiffs also air grievances against the regional and some local Alaska Native Corporations and identify them as opponents of the project, alleging that “These Alaska Native interests are among the most wealthy and powerful entities in Alaska…They have at all relevant times falsely asserted that the tiny project would interfere with Alaska Native subsistence harvest of fish and wildlife.”
IPOP and the Abells sue for a review of the permit denial and are compelling the Corps “to issue a permit for their mining project.” The second claim for relief is to complete the administrative appeal soon, again alleging that the Corps shows “bad faith conduct toward the applicant and collusion with project opponents.”
IPOP filed an administrative appeal with the Corps in November, after it was denied permits to mine at Bonanza Channel, repeating their allegations of perceived unfair treatment and blaming the Native corporations for exerting undue influence over the Corps’ decisions.
While plaintiffs insist on their perceived mistreatment, the Corps’ permit denial and justification paints a different picture. In its decision letter, the Corps said it had determined that IPOP’s project fails to comply with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and that the proposed project is not the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative. Regulators also found IPOP lacked substantive information and coherent plans, casting doubt over whether the group had sufficient proof that the resource they intended to mine was even present.
IPOP first proposed its mining plans in March 2018, barged their mining equipment to Nome and wanted to begin work that summer despite a lack of federal or state permits. In a prospectus for potential investors, the group also revealed its plans for an associated reality TV show called “Rivers of Gold” and merchandise.

 

The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762
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Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

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