Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hopis Make Another Attempt To Prevent Use of Recycled Waste Water At Snowbowl

In 2008, the Hopi Indian tribe was one of several plaintiffs who lost a bid under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to stop the federal Forest Service from approving the use of recycled waste water to make artificial snow at Arizona's Snowbowl ski resort.  The 9th Circuit, en banc, rejected plaintiffs' claims of spiritual contamination of the sacred San Francisco Peaks, saying that the tribes' diminished spiritual fulfillment is not a "substantial burden" on their free exercise of religion. (See prior posting.) Now, according to a press release issued last week, the Hopis have filed a new challenge to the use of waste water, this time in state court, in a lawsuit against the city of Flagstaff (AZ).  The suit seeks to invalidate the city's contract to sell 1.5 million gallons of reclaimed waste water per day to Snowbowl.  The complaint alleges that the use of reclaimed water in a mountain setting will violate various environmental, health and safety restrictions. It asks the court to prohibit performance of the contract on the ground that it is for an illegal purpose and contrary to public policy.