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Manygoats v. Kleppe

ELR Citation: 7 ELR 20576
Nos. No. 77-1001, 558 F.2d 556/10 ERC 1361/(10th Cir., 07/17/1977)

In an action brought by members of the Navajo Tribe to enjoin an agreement for uranium mining on the reservation because of the inadequacy of the environmental impact statement (EIS) prepared by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the activity, the court affirms the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction but reverses the dismissal of the action for nonjoinder of the Navajo Tribe. Since mining leases require approval of the Secretary of the Interior, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) applies. The EIS is a comprehensive, good-faith, objective, and reasonable presentation of the subject areas mandated by NEPA and is therefore adequate. Although the tribe is a necessary party under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a), it is not an indispensable party whose absence requires dismissal of the suit under Rule 19(b) because a determination of the adequacy of the EIS does not necessarily prejudice the tribe. Moreover, to dismiss the action would frustrate NEPA by allowing challenge of an EIS only by the tribe, which is a party to the agreement.

Counsel for Appellants
Richard W. Hughes
P.O. Box 306, Window Rock AZ 86515
(602) 871-4151

Counsel for Appellees
John J. Zimmerman
Department of Justice
Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-4519

Victor Ortega, U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 607, Albuquerque NM 87103
(505) 766-3341

Counsel for Intervenors-Appellees Exxon Corporation
Robert M. Perry
Modrall, Sperling, Roehl, Harris & Sisk
P.O. Box 2168, Albuquerque NM 87103
(505) 243-4511

Joined by Doyle and McWilliams, JJ.