NMELCs Native American Cases.

CASES — NATIVE AMERICAN


Cases are arranged alphabetically, with the exception of affiliated case groupings. The simplest method to find a particular case is to use our search feature, at the top of the page. Learn more about Native American issues.


Cannon AFB Training Flights [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Northern New Mexico

Issues:

Oppose Air Force training missions over Taos Pueblo and areas important to Taos Pueblo.



Latest News:
Case Initiation Date:
September 2010

Clients/Partners:
Taos Pueblo

Attorneys:
Douglas Meiklejohn

Case Status:
On-going

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Hydro Resources, Inc. uranium mines [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Church Rock, Crownpoint

Issues:

Two decades ago, Crownpoint resident Mitchell Capitan worked as a groundwater technician for the MobilOil pilot-scale in-situ leach (ISL) uranium mine near his home. He saw first-hand, month after month, that MobilOil could not clean up the water that it polluted with the process. (Go to case files)

When he learned that Hydro Resources, Inc. sought to open a new ISL mine near his home, he organized his neighbors into the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM – see videos below from two ENDAUM members).  Two years later, in 1996, they approached the New Mexico Environmental Law Center for legal assistance.  We have represented ENDAUM ever since.

It’s been an historic case, with work at the local, state, national and international levels.  The stakes are high: the Westwater Canyon Aquifer currently supplies approximately 15,000 residents of the Eastern Agency of the Navajo Nation.  In addition, the tribal water planners declared that the aquifer will be an important future source of water to meet growing demands in the future.  The mines and processing plant would also add radioactive air emissions to an airshed that already exceeds federal air quality standards for radiation.

If these mines succeed in opening, it will send a chilling message to communities near uranium ore: uranium is worth more than your water…more than your air…more than you and your neighbors.



Latest News:

08/06/2012 - NMELC sends letter to EPA Acting Administrator Coleman regarding aquifer exemption issued to Hydro Resources, Inc. for Church Rock Section 8.

03/08/2012 - Arguments heard on Summary Judgement. Judge decides not to rule on the merits of case because the case is not ripe yet.

10/11/2011 - ENDAUM requests hearing on motion for summary judgment.

09/01/2011 - ENDAUM requests judgment that the NMED has no authority to accept HRI’s application as a discharge permit renewal.

07/15/2011 - NMELC files Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction and supporting documents for client, ENDAUM.

06/27/2011 - On behalf of ENDAUM, NMELC filed a letter demanding New Mexico Environment Department issue a notice to HRI that their discharge permit has not been renewed based on documents obtained that show high-ranking employees of the NMED have been improperly influencing regulatory decisions of the Groundwater Quality Bureau.

05/13/2011 - NMELC files a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights seeking to halt a uranium mining operation in the Navajo villages of Church Rock and Crownpoint, N.M

11/15/2010 - U.S. Supreme Court denies review of decision to allow in situ leach (ISL) uranium mining in the Church Rock and Crownpoint communities.

09/15/2010 - NMELC files an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to allow in situ leach (ISL) uranium mining in the Church Rock and Crownpoint communities.

05/18/2010 - The 10th Federal Circuit Appeals Court denies request for En Banc Rehearing.

04/22/2010 - NMELC files Petition for Panel or En Banc Rehearing to the 10th Federal Circuit Appeals Court.

03/08/2010 - The 10th Federal Circuit Appeals Court in Denver, CO returned with their decision upholding the NRC license allowing HRI to mine for uranium in Crownpoint’s municipal water supply.

05/12/2008 - Oral arguments are heard in 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, CO. Currently we are waiting to hear judges decision.

Case Initiation Date:
September 1996

Clients/Partners:
Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) and the Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC)

Attorneys:
Eric Jantz

Case Status:
On-going

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Mount Taylor Standby Permit [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Mt. Taylor region, near Grants, NM

Issues:

Rio Grande Resources, has applied to the NM Mining and Minerals Division for a fourth standby permit renewal for the inactive Mt. Taylor Mine.  A standby permit allows the mine operator to let the mine remain inactive without having to do any reclamation (clean up). The permit lasts for 5 years. Our clients are challenging the permit application because we believe RGR must do some reclamation rather than leave the mine as is for another five years.



Latest News:

08/27/2013 - Order filed vacating NM Mining Commission’s order and certifying case to Court of Appeals

05/29/2013 - NMELC files a reply to the Commission’s Response to Appellants’ Statement of Issues.

05/10/2013 - NMELC files Request for Hearing. Read press release.

01/24/2013 - Received public notice for Mining and Mineral Division’s review of Rio Grande Resources’ closeout plan and financial assurance.

01/02/2013 - Filed Reply to Rio Grande Resources Corp. Response to Appellate Issues.

12/27/2012 - Filed Reply to NM Mining Commission’s Response and Reply to NM Mining and Minerals Division’s Response to Appellate Issues.

10/22/2012 - Filed Statement of Appellate Issues.

09/20/2012 - NMELC files Appellants’ Motion to Certify Appeal.

01/31/2012 - The NM Mining and Minerals Division Director, Fernando Martinez, approved a 5 year standby permit for the Mt. Taylor Mine. The standby permit will allow Rio Grande Resources to avoid reclaiming the waste piles at the mine site, which have led to groundwater being contaminated with uranium.  The Law Center’s clients are considering whether to appeal Mr. Martinez’s decision. 

09/01/2011 - NMELC files a post hearing submission comments.

08/17/2011 - Public hearing held at the Cibola County Convention Center, in Grants, NM.

05/30/2011 - Public hearing to be held this summer.

08/05/2009 - Client submitted comments on the proposed ground water discharge permit. Currently waiting on response from the New Mexico Environment Department’s Ground Water Bureau.

06/05/2009 - Mount Taylor was permanently listed in the State Register of Cultural Properties by the Cultural Properties Review Committee. To view the final nomination, a map showing the guardian peaks used to establish the TCP boundaries and other related materials, please visit the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division website.

Case Initiation Date:
July 2009

Clients/Partners:
Amigos Bravos and Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE)

Attorneys:
Eric Jantz

Case Status:
On-going

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ISL GEIS [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Western US

Issues:

We represent our clients in an effort to prevent the NRC from issuing a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for new in situ leach (ISL) uranium mining in Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming. If approved, the NRC would apply the document to every proposed ISL minesite in those four states, rather than conducting site-specific environmental impact statements.  A Generic EIS would limit public participation in licensing proceedings, and would reduce the type of studies required at each site.  The agency issued a 500-page Draft Generic EIS in July 2008. In August 2008, we successfully petitioned the agency to extend its public comment period by 60 days.  During that time, we conducted an in-depth legal and technical review of the document, and submitted comments in November 2008, with national groups and groups from California, New Mexico and South Dakota signing on.



Latest News:

06/04/2009 - NRC Issues Final Environmental Report on Uranium Recovery Operations, Announces Change in Review Approach Go to press release

11/07/2008 - Comments Submitted on Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement for In-Situ Leach Uranium Milling Facilities on behalf of SRIC, BVDA, ENDAUM and the Haaku Water Office of the Acoma Pueblo, and with the support of other organizations and individuals.

Case Initiation Date:
July 2007

Clients/Partners:
SRIC and ENDAUM

Attorneys:
Eric Jantz

Case Status:
On-going

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Rio Pueblo de Taos Contamination [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Taos Pueblo

Issues:

Represent Taos Pueblo in negotiations with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concerning contamination of Rio Pueblo de Taos by the Town of Taos’ wastewater treatment plant.



Latest News:
Case Initiation Date:
July 2011

Clients/Partners:
Taos Pueblo

Attorneys:
Douglas Meiklejohn

Case Status:
On-going

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Roca Honda discharge permit [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Mt. Taylor

Issues:

Participate in New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) proceeding concerning discharge permit for Roca Honda uranium mine.



Latest News:
Case Initiation Date:
July 2009

Clients/Partners:
Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE)

Attorneys:
Eric Jantz

Case Status:
On-going

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Roca Honda MMD Mining Permit [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Mt. Taylor

Issues:

Participate in first application to Mining and Minerals Division (MMD) for conventional uranium mining permit under NM Mining Act.



Latest News:

11/24/2010 - Roca Honda EIS Scoping Comment Period Open. Get PDF of notice.

Case Initiation Date:
November 2009

Clients/Partners:


Attorneys:
Eric Jantz

Case Status:
On-going

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Roca Honda USFS Plan of Operations/ NEPA Process [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Mt. Taylor

Issues:

Participate in United State’s Forest Service’s (USFS) proceeding concerning consideration of Strathmore’s Plan of Operations for Roca Honda mine.



Latest News:

06/13/2013 - NMELC files comments with the U. S. Forest Service on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Roca Honda uranium mine. Read press release.

06/12/2013 - The US Environmental Protection Agency files comments on Roca Honda uranium mine Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Case Initiation Date:
July 2009

Clients/Partners:
Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE)

Attorneys:
Eric Jantz

Case Status:
On-going

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Taos municipal airport expansion [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Taos

Issues:

The Law Center represents Taos Pueblo in efforts to prevent or limit expansion of the Taos municipal airport, which would impair religious practices by Pueblo members, threaten the iconic architecture of the Pueblo, and increase development pressure on their living culture - the basis for its designation as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In 2003, the FAA conducted a noise analysis that offered the conclusion that a Cessna overflight is no louder than a thunderclap.  Our clients assert that comparing a twin-engine aircraft to an act of nature illustrates the administration’s lack of cultural sensitivity.

We are in continuing negotiations with the FAA to prevent the expansion of the airport, or to mitigate its impacts on the Pueblo.



Latest News:

2/29/2012 - The last of the eight parties sign the Memorandum of Agreement.

12/30/2011 - Taos Pueblo, the Town of Taos, the FAA, and other parties signed a Memorandum of Agreement (Read press release). The Memorandum of Agreement will put in place measures to discourage pilots from flying over Taos Pueblo lands, to monitor flights that do occur over Pueblo lands, and to address crashes on Pueblo lands.  It also calls for Taos Pueblo and the Town of Taos to work together on federal legislation that would mandate the adoption of regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration to protect Taos Pueblo from overflights.

Aug 2009 - Negotiations with the FAA are continuing.

Case Initiation Date:
June 1994

Clients/Partners:
Taos Pueblo

Attorneys:
Douglas Meiklejohn

Case Status:
On-going

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