Hog farm battle reaches Supreme Court
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A Nebraska company has asked the Supreme Court to validate a lease for the largest hog farm in Indian Country.

Over the objections of tribal officials and local activists, Sun Prairie wants to move forward with its controversial operation. The company envisions farming up to 900,000 hogs a year on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation of South Dakota.

The tribe at first agreed to the plans and signed a lease for a two-phase project. One phase has already been initiated at a cost of at least $5 million, according to court documents.

But due to a change in administration, the tribal council now opposes the farm. Along with area residents and environmentalists, the tribe asked the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to halt future construction.

In April, a three-judge panel of the court sided with the farm opponents. Writing for the majority, Circuit Judge Kermit E. Bye upheld former Assistant Secretary Kevin Gover's decision to void the lease because it failed to meet environmental standards.

The court also said that Sun Prairie lacked standing to challenge the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The case was ordered to be dismissed but the company asked for Supreme Court review in a petition filed November 2.

If completed, the hog farm would be one of the largest in the country and the largest on a reservation. According to court documents, it would consume 1.6 millions gallons of water daily and occupy 1,100 acres of land.

Despite local objections, the BIA never drafted an environmental impact statement. Instead, it issued a less stringent environmental assessment and allowed construction to proceed in late September 1988.

The decision prompted a number of lawsuits, with the tribe and the company initially battling the BIA and the activists. In January 1999, Gover voided the lease, an action which led to the current dispute.

The defendant in the case is current Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb. The Department of Justice has until December 15 to submit its response to the petition for writ of certiorari.

Get the Case:
ROSEBUD SIOUX TRIBE v. MCDIVITT, No. 00-2468 (8th Cir. April 05, 2002)

Relevant Documents:
Docket Sheet: No. 02-751

Relevant Links:
Rosebud Sioux Tribe -

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