Department of Interior Judge
Withdraws Peabody's Coal-Mining Permit
on Black Mesa
Reverses 11th Hour Bush Administration Decision
by Billy Parish
Black Mesa, Arizona
According to Judge Robert G. Holt, "OSM violated NEPA (National Environmental Protection Act) by not preparing a supplemental draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) when Peabody changed the proposed action. As a result, the Final EIS did not consider a reasonable range of alternatives to the new proposed action, described the wrong environmental baseline, and did not achieve the informed decision-making and meaningful public comment required by NEPA. Because of the defective Final EIS, OSM's decision to issue a revised permit to Peabody must be vacated and remanded to OSM for further action."
Wahleah Johns, co-director of Black Mesa Water Coalition, one of the petitioners in the appeal, issued the following statement: "As a community member of Black Mesa I am grateful for Judge Holt's decision. For 40 years our sacred homelands and people have borne the brunt of coal mining impacts, from relocation to depletion of our only drinking water source. This ruling is an important step towards restorative justice for Indigenous communities who have suffered at the hands of multinational companies like Peabody Energy. This decision is also precedent-setting for all other communities who struggle with the complexities of NEPA laws and OSM procedures in regards to environmental protection. However, we also cannot ignore that irreversible damage of coal mining industries continues on the land, water, air, people and all living things."
Published in In Motion Magazine January 10, 2010
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