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Environment | Law
9th Circuit rejects Northern Cheyenne injunction


A divided panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Northern Cheyenne Tribe's attempt to block coalbed methane development in Montana.

By a 2-1 vote, the panel agreed that the Interior Department violated environmental law by approving drilling in the Powder River Basin. But the judges left in place a lower court order that allowed "limited" development while a new environmental impact statement is being prepared.

The court did not reach the question of whether drilling would harm the tribe's cultural resources. "Neither the plan nor the partial injunction can affect any Indian cultural resources, because no actual development is possible without additional environmental assessment, consultation with the tribe as required by the National Historic Preservation Act, and permits," Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld wrote.

Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder dissented. She said the "limited" development would significantly impact the environment even though the Interior Department has failed to study all of the options for coalbed methane drilling.

Get the Story:
Panel upholds judge's ruling in coal-bed methane case (AP 9/12)

Get the Decision:
Northern Cheyenne Tribe v. Kempthorne (September 11, 2007)

Relevant Links:
Northern Cheyenne Tribe - http://www.cheyennenation.com

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