Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Navajo Nation to Sue EPA

Navajo Nation preps lawsuit against EPA over mine spill
The Navajo Nation is preparing for a legal battle against President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The tribe contends that the EPA's Aug. 5 accident in Colorado, which made national headlines after turning portions of the Animas River bright yellow, also leaked hazardous substances into the San Juan River — one of the Navajo Nation's primary water sources.
Now, they've hired law firm Hueston Hennigan LLP to represent them in what some are predicting could be a multibillion-dollar lawsuit expected to be filed in the coming weeks, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill prepare for a round of hearings examining the issue.
. . .
"This expansion into Navajo lands via the San Juan River has critically impacted the River and its dependent ecosystems including wildlife, fish populations, and the land base adjacent to the River," Begaye wrote in the letter, first obtained by The Hill.

He said that "the nature of this toxic chemical spill will acutely and chronically impact the River and dependent ecosystem if immediate and effective corrective actions and remedies are not taken."

Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch said in a statement that the hazardous-material spill "has been devastating to our culture and economy, as well as to the peace of mind of our people.
I think that's a bit of an overstatement, but sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

I don't think that a regular governmental agency, like a city, state or county would stand much of chance in this suit. EPA would just claim sovereign immunity. But given that the Navajo nation is a sort of sovereign nation within the US, they may have better luck.

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