Judge rejects lawsuit targeting mine operations, coal plant on Navajo land
- According to U.S. News & World Report, a U.S. district judge has rejected environmental groups' lawsuit targeting operations at the Navajo Mine and the Four Corners Power Plant in New Mexico.
- In 2015, the U.S. Department of Interior approved a 25-year site lease extension with the Navajo Nation, allowing operations at the mine and plant to continue. Environmental groups, however, argued the agency failed to consider clean energy alternatives to the coal facility.
- This week, in the District Court for the District of Arizona, Judge Steven Logan ruled the lawsuit could not move ahead because the mine is owned by the Navajo Nation which is exempt from such legal challenges.
Logan on Monday ruled the case could not move forward without the coal mine as a defendant — and because it is a corporation formed by the Navajo Nation to purchase the mine from BHP Billiton, it is immune to such challenges.
It is the most recent win for the tribe, which derives significant revenues from power plants on its lands. APS, which owns Four Corners, says the lease will direct more than $200 million to the Navajo Nation over 25 years.
In June, the Navajo Council approved a new lease for a 2,250 MW coal plant, the Navajo Generating Station, allowing it to continue serving Salt River Project customers. That plant provides about $30 million in revenue each year to the Navajo Nation.
In their lawsuit, conservation groups argued Four Corners, along with the San Juan Generating Station,was impacting air and water quality in the region — including parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.
Four Corners is owned by several utilities and receives its fuel solely from the Navajo Tribal Coal Lease area.
- U.S. News & World Report US Judge Cites Tribal Sovereignty in Dismissing Coal Lawsuit
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