Monday, June 21, 2010

Te-Moak Tribe Of Western v. U.S. DOE

Jun 18: In the U.S Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 07-16336. Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone of Nevada, a Federally-recognized Indian tribe (the Tribe), the Western Shoshone Defense Project (WSDP), and Great Basin Mine Watch (GBMW) (collectively,Plaintiffs) appeal the district court's denial of their motion for summary judgment, and the grant of summary judgment to the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), several officers of the BLM, and intervenor Cortez Gold Mines, Inc. (Cortez) (collectively, Defendants). Plaintiffs contend that the BLM's approval of Cortez's amendment to a plan of operations for an existing mineral exploration project in Nevada violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA).
    Under the original Horse Canyon/Cortez Unified Exploration Project (the HC/CUEP) for mineral exploration, Cortez was permitted to disturb a total of 50 acres of land within the entire project area over the course of all three phases of the project. In July 2003, Cortez proposed an amendment to the HC/CUEP plan of operations (the Amendment) that would permit Cortez to disturb a total of 250 acres throughout the project area -- five times the amount approved by the BLM for the original project.
    In summary, the Appeals Court affirmed the district court with respect to Plaintiffs' NHPA and FLPMA claims, and reversed and remand for further proceedings with respect to one of their NEPA claims. The Appeals Court said, "Because the BLM approved the Amendment to the HC/CUEP in violation of NEPA, we reverse the district court's award of summary judgment to Defendants and remand to the district court so that it may enter summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs on their NEPA claim and remand the matter to the BLM for further proceedings. On the NHPA and FLPMA claims, we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendants. "
    Access the complete opinion (click here).

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