Sunday, February 22, 2009

Opinion Available In Mt. Tenaabo Gold Mine Case

The full opinion in South Fork Band v. U.S. Department of Interior, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12000 (D NV, Feb. 3, 2009), has now become available. As previously reported, in the case a Nevada federal district court denied a preliminary injunction to prevent Barrick Gold Corp. from beginning to dig a 2,000-foot deep open pit mine on Nevada's Mount Tenabo. (See prior posting.) In the full opinion, the court found that RFRA applies to the case, even though it involves the government's management of its own land. The court found that the tribes bringing suit had standing to do so on their own behalf as well as under the standards of associational standing. However the court found that plaintiffs had not, so far, demonstrated a substantial burden on their religious exercise because they will continue to have access to religiously significant areas. The court also rejected claims under the Federal Land Policy And Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The decision has been appealed to the 9th circuit. (See prior posting.)