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South Fork Band Council of W. Shoshone of Nev. v. Department of the Interior

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20276
Nos. No. 09-15230, (9th Cir., 12/03/2009)

The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part a lower court decision denying Native American tribes' motion to preliminarily enjoin BLM's approval of a large gold mining project on Mt. Tenabo, Nevada, which has religious significance for the tribes. The tribes failed to satisfy their burden of showing a likelihood of success on the merits of their FLPMA claims. BLM thoroughly considered the project's impact on the tribes' religion in the EIS, which was approved after more than two years of study and consultation with the tribes and the public. The tribes, however, did demonstrate a likelihood of success on their NEPA claims. BLM failed to adequately consider the environmental impact of the extraction of millions of tons of refractory ore, mitigation of the adverse impact on local springs and streams, and the extent of fine particulate emissions. Accordingly, the court ordered the temporary suspension of the project pending BLM's preparation of a proper EIS.