Interior dismisses lawsuit against Kayenta Mine


The Sierra Club and other groups sued to get Kayenta Mine to restore their site to pre-mine conditions.

PAGE – The attorneys for the U.S. Department of the Interior two weeks ago urged an Arizona federal judge to toss a suit from the Sierra Club and three Hopi and Navajo conservation groups seeking an order that the Interior figure out how to clean up the Kayenta Mine and restore the land to “pre-mine condition.”


Joseph H. Kim and Jeffrey H. Wood, attorneys for the Interior said the plaintiffs’ complaint filed on June 14 is time barred.


Kim and Wood urged Judge G. Murray Snow to dismiss a suit from the Black Mesa Water Coalition, Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, the Sierra Club, and Tó Nizhóní ‘Ání, saying the federal complaint is “not timely.”


“The complaint seeks judicial review of an administrative order issued May 8, 2018, from the … Office of Hearings and Appeals within … the Interior,” court documents read. “Thus, there is no question that the complaint was filed well over 30 days from the date of such order or decision.”


The defendants in this case are the Interior and the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. This case involves a challenge to the renewal of an operating permit for the Kayenta Mine that feeds the Navajo Generating Station.


The plaintiffs in this case had already challenged this permit renewal in that administrative case, and now they are seeking judicial review of that administrative order. The attorneys for the Interior say the plaintiffs have failed to adhere to the jurisdictional requirements for seeking judicial review of such an administrative order.


 “The judicial review provision of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act requires that judicial review be sought within 30 days from the date of such order or decision,” court documents read. “Because plaintiffs have failed to do so, their complaint is time barred.”


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