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Davis v. Morton

Citation: 2 ELR 20003
No. No. 9190 Civil, 335 F. Supp. 1258/3 ERC 1546/(D.N.M., 12/21/1971)

The Secretary of the Interior is required by 25 U.S.C. §415 to approve any lease of Indian lands. On May 24, 1970, the Secretary approved such a lease which contemplated developing a small city near the pueblo of Tesuque. The plaintiffs sought an injunction preventing the lease from becoming effective until the Secretary filed an environmental impact study pursuant to §102 of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The court held that such approvals of leases did not constitute "major federal actions" under NEPA, since the United States did not initiate, participate in, or benefit from, the lease, but merely approved it. The amendment of 25 U.S.C. §415 effective June 2, 1970, which requires the Secretary to consider environmental impact before approving any such leases, indicates that Congress also did not believe NEPA applied. Preliminary injunction denied.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
White, Gilbert, Koch, Kelly & McCarthy
P.O. Box 787
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

Counsel for United States
Victor R. Ortega United States Attorney
Richard J. Smith Assistant U.S. Attorney
United States Courthouse and Post Office Building
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103