Description: Challenge to expanded coal strip-mining operations at the Navajo Mine and extended coal combustion at the Four Corners Power Plant.
Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment v. U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 07/29/2019 Opinion Download Dismissal affirmed. Ninth Circuit Affirmed Dismissal of Challenge to Coal Mining on Navajo Land. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging federal agency actions that reauthorized coal mining activities on land reserved to the Navajo Nation. The Ninth Circuit agreed with the district court that the Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC)—a corporation wholly owned by the Navajo Nation and the owner of the coal mine—was a required party that could not be joined due to tribal sovereign immunity. The Ninth Circuit further concluded that the district court had not abused its discretion in determining that the lawsuit could not proceed without NTEC. 05/18/2018 Amicus Brief Download Amicus brief filed by Navajo Nation supporting appellees and affirmance of the district court decision. 02/16/2018 Brief Download Brief submitted by United States as amicus curiae in support of reversal. 02/09/2018 Brief Download Opening brief filed by appellants.
Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment v. Bureau of Indian Affairs
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 09/11/2017 Order Download Action dismissed. Arizona Federal Court Dismissed Challenges to Approvals for Extended and Expanded Operations at Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine. The federal district court for the District of Arizona dismissed an action challenging federal authorizations for extending operations of the Four Corners Power Plant, renewing rights-of-way for transmission lines, and expanding strip mining in the Navajo Mine. The court agreed with Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC)—a company formed by the Navajo Nation in 2013 to purchase the Navajo Mine—that NTEC was a necessary party that could not be joined by virtue of its sovereign immunity. The court held that “[i]n equity and good conscience” the case could not continue. The groups challenging the approvals had alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, including allegations that environmental review failed to consider alternatives that would have significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions. 04/20/2016 Complaint Download Complaint filed. New Lawsuit Filed to Challenge Approvals for Continued Operations at Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine. Environmental groups filed a lawsuit against federal defendants in the federal district court for the District of Arizona challenging expanded coal strip-mining operations at the Navajo Mine and extended coal combustion at the Four Corners Power Plant. The facilities are located in New Mexico and Arizona, including on tribal lands. The groups challenged a Biological Opinion (BiOp) prepared pursuant to the Endangered Species Act that concluded that operations at the mine and power plant would neither jeopardize the survival and recovery of, nor adversely modify designated critical habitat of, two endangered species of fish. The groups’ allegations included that the BiOp’s analysis of cumulative effects failed entirely to address evidence of significant impacts to the fishes’ habitat from climate change. The groups also challenged compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. They alleged that the final environmental impact statement rejected alternatives such as conversion to natural gas that were technically and economically feasible and that would have greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions at the power plant, which the complaint said was one of the largest domestic sources of greenhouse gas emissions.