Friday, June 17, 2022

9th Circuit Hears Oral Arguments In Tribe's Challenge To Geothermal Project

On Wednesday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe v. U.S. Department of the Interior (video of full oral arguments). In the case, in a January 14, 2022 opinion (full text) a Nevada federal district court, among other things, rejected a claim by the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe that construction of a geothermal facility will violate their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The district court held that plaintiffs' claim that the project destroys the Tribe's ability to exercise its religious traditions is not enough to amount to a "substantial burden" on religious exercise. Desecration of a sacred area does not coerce Tribe members to act contrary to their religion. A conservation organization is also a plaintiff in the case. (See prior related posting.)  Nevada Current reports on this week's oral arguments.