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Environmental Groups Gain Court Victory Over Peabody Coal on Black Mesa

BLACK MESA, AZ — The Department of Interior (DOI) has denied Peabody Coal Company’s expansion operations on Black Mesa, AZ.

Peabody had been planning to combine both their Kayenta and Black Mesa mines, pump more water for transporting coal, reactivate the Black Mesa mine, and acquire a “Life of Mine” permit.
Peabody’s expansion plans were initially approved in a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) by the Bush Administration.

Environmental groups appealed the FEIS on grounds that Indigenous People’s religious freedom would be violated, there was not enough outreach to impacted communities, and that the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Judge Robert G. Holt’s decision stated, “OSM violated NEPA by not preparing a supplemental draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) when Peabody changed the proposed action. As a result, the Final EIS did not consider a reasonable range of alternatives to the new proposed action, described the wrong environmental baseline, and did not achieve the informed decision-making and meaningful public comment required by NEPA. Because of the defective Final EIS, OSM’s decision to issue a revised permit to Peabody must be vacated and remanded to OSM for further action.”

The DOI judge who reviewed the case did not rule on the religious freedom violation or other claims.

Peabody, the Navajo Nation & the Hopi Tribal Council still can appeal the decision.
Peabody Coal is still operating their Kayenta mine.

Peabody Coal has been operating on Black Mesa for more than 40 years. Since 1974 more than 14,000 Dine’ have been forcibly relocated from their ancestral homelands on Black Mesa due to mining interests.

Read more here: Black Mesa Water Coalition News Release, Forgotten People: Victory for Black Mesa, Censored News, Black Mesa Indigenous Support

(Also posted at www.arizona.indymedia.org)

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