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United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
March 7, 2019, Argued and Submitted, Phoenix, Arizona; July 29, 2019, Filed
[*847] FRIEDLAND, Circuit Judge:
A coalition of tribal, regional, and national conservation organizations ("Plaintiffs") sued the U.S. Department of the Interior, its Secretary, and several bureaus within the agency, challenging a variety of agency actions that reauthorized coal mining activities on land reserved to the Navajo Nation. Plaintiffs alleged that these actions violated the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"), 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq., and the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq. The Navajo Transitional Energy Company ("NTEC"), a corporation wholly owned by the Navajo Nation that owns the mine in question, intervened in the action for the limited purpose of moving to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 19 and 12(b)(7). NTEC argued that it was a required [*848] party but [**6] that it could not be joined due to tribal sovereign immunity, and that the lawsuit could not proceed without it. The district court agreed with NTEC and dismissed the action.4 We affirm.
The Navajo Mine ("Mine") is a 33,000-acre strip mine. It produces coal from which the Four Corners Power Plant ("Power Plant") generates electricity. The Mine and Power Plant are both on tribal land of the Navajo Nation within New Mexico. The Mine operates pursuant to a surface mining permit issued by the Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement ("OSMRE") under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, 30 U.S.C. § 1201 et seq. Transmission lines that distribute electricity from the Power Plant run west into Arizona through lands reserved to the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe. The Mine, Power Plant, and transmission lines were built in tandem and have operated since the early 1960s.
The Navajo Nation is a federally recognized Indian tribe with its seat of government in Arizona and territory spanning areas of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. For many years, the Navajo Nation granted a coal mining lease to BHP Billiton Navajo Coal Company ("BHP Billiton"), a private company [**7] that owned and operated the Mine. In 2013, the Navajo Nation Council created the Navajo Transitional Energy Company (again, "NTEC") for the purpose of purchasing the Mine from BHP Billiton.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
932 F.3d 843 *; 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 22407 **; 49 ELR 20127; 86 ERC (BNA) 7365; 104 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 575; 2019 WL 3404210
DINE CITIZENS AGAINST RUINING OUR ENVIRONMENT; SAN JUAN CITIZENS ALLIANCE; AMIGOS BRAVOS; SIERRA CLUB; CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS; UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR; UNITED STATES OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING RECLAMATION AND ENFORCEMENT; UNITED STATES BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT; DAVID BERNHARDT,1 in his official capacity as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior; UNITED STATES FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, Defendants-Appellees, ARIZONA PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY; NAVAJO TRANSITIONAL ENERGY COMPANY LLC, Intervenor-Defendants-Appellees.
Subsequent History: Reported at Dine Citizens Against Ruining Our Env't v. BIA, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 28676 (9th Cir. Ariz., July 29, 2019)
US Supreme Court certiorari denied by Din Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment v. BIA, 2020 U.S. LEXIS 3508 (U.S., June 29, 2020)
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. D.C. No. 3:16-cv-08077-SPL. Steven Paul Logan, District Judge, Presiding.
Din Citizens Against Ruining Our Env't v. BIA, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147432 (D. Ariz., Sept. 11, 2017)
tribes, public right, joined, tribal, protected interest, lease, environmental, sovereign immunity, district court, Defendants', impaired, Fish, Repatriation, immunity, permits, decisions, parties, legal entitlement, lease agreement, surface mining, rights-of-way, lawsuit, rights, compliance, feasible, motion to dismiss, mining operation, necessary party, subject matter, challenging
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Parties, Joinder of Parties, De Novo Review, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Joinder of Parties, Compulsory Joinder, Necessary Parties, Governments, Native Americans, Tribal Sovereign Immunity, Indispensable Parties