The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the emergency motion filed by Navajo Transitional Energy to allow coal mining in the newly expanded Area IV of its Navajo Mine in New Mexico.
The court denied the motion as the mine operator had failed to justify its request to resume coal mining.
The appeal followed the decision of a federal district court in Colorado, US, to cease coal mining operations in Area IV, as it said the mine violated the National Environmental Policy Act.
Judge John Kane signed the order to stop mining in Area IV, pending a thorough environmental review assessing the impact on public health and the environment of mercury pollution from burning coal for electricity.
Navajo Mine in north-western New Mexico supplies coal to the nearby Four Corners Power Plant, which is said to be one of the most polluting coal plants in the country.
Dinè CARE official Sarah White previously said: "This decision confirms the serious problems with the Navajo Mine and the long legacy of pollution that must be addressed at the entire coal complex.
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"It also appears that the Navajo Transitional Energy Company and OSM have minimised the analysis on the 50-year-old facility, which is fraught with liabilities. We are tired of being marginalised with our public health, culture and communities being compromised. We must now identify flawed coal economics being perpetuated on the Navajo Nation and supported by OSM."
Diné CARE, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Amigos Bravos, Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club represented by the Western Environmental Law Center are the plaintiffs involved in the litigation.
Image: Navajo Mine is located in San Juan County, New Mexico on the Navajo Nation. Photo: courtesy of Mike Eisenfeld, San Juan Citizens Alliance.