indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Peabody takes coal lease dispute to high court
Wednesday, December 1, 2004

The long-running battle between the world's largest coal company and the country's largest tribe is once again headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

For almost two decades, Peabody Coal and the Navajo Nation have been at odds over a controversial coal mining lease approved during the Reagan administration. The tribe says it was forced into accepting a low royalty rate for one of the most valuable coal deposits in the world.

The dispute has spawned a slew of lawsuits, with the tribe alleging it lost billions due to Peabody's behind-the-scenes lobbying of top Interior Department officials. The tribe has one case pending against the United States for breach of trust and a separate federal racketeering case against Peabody.

For its part, Peabody filed a lawsuit against the Navajo Nation in federal court in Arizona. The company wants to force the tribe into accepting the lower royalty rate, citing a settlement reached through an arbitration clause in the lease.

But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Peabody's case this past June. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel said the company lacked standing to enforce the settlement because it was not approved by the federal government.

"Peabody seeks enforcement of the arbitration royalty award, not the lease," the court wrote, "[y]et the final arbitration award for which Peabody seeks enforcement was not federally approved."

On November 8, Peabody filed a petition with the Supreme Court, seeking to reinstate the lawsuit. The company says the courts have jurisdiction to resolve the dispute because the underlying lease, and an amendment laying out the arbitration procedures, were approved by the Interior Department.

The lease and the amendments were previously considered by the Supreme Court in the Navajo Nation's against the federal government. In a 5-4 ruling issued in March 2003, the justices said the tribe didn't prove a breach of trust under the Indian Mineral Leasing Act, which gives tribes greater control over their trust assets.

But the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals reopened the debate in October 2003 when it said the tribe could cite other laws to make its case.

Peabody has denied any wrongdoing for the handling of the lease. But internal documents showed that the company hired a lobbyist who was a personal friend of then-Interior Secretary Don Hodel to fight the tribe's request for a 20 percent royalty rate on the coal.

The tribe never knew about the secret meeting but it definitely had an impact on the matter. According to government memos, one of which was prepared by Peabody, Hodel suppressed a Bureau of Indian Affairs decision favoring the higher rate and told the tribe to continue negotiations.

As a result, the tribe -- "facing economic pressure" -- accepted a 12.5 percent royalty rate. The tribe says the decision cost $600 million. Any damages would be determined by the courts.

The lobbying prompted the tribe to bring a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) case against Peabody. The case is in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Peabody has tried numerous times to delay or dismiss the case but the attempts have been rejected.

Bush administration officials currently in charge of Indian trust have been closely involved. Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles oversaw the now-defunct mining division that supported the tribe's stance on the scientific facts before it was rejected by political appointees. Special Trustee Ross Swimmer, as former head of the BIA, approved the lease without conducting an economic analysis.

The Navajo Nation has until December 10 to file a response to Peabody's Supreme Court petition.

Lower Court Decision:
Peabody v. Navajo Nation (June 15, 2004)

Relevant Links:
Navajo Nation - http://www.navajo.org
Peabody Energy - http://www.peabodyenergy.com

Related Stories:
Peabody loses another round in Navajo coal lease fight (06/16)
Tribes seek conditional permit for generation station (6/15)
Grassroots battle against Peabody sees success (06/07)
Judge won't dismiss Navajo Nation suit against Peabody (04/27)
Peabody continues top-level access at Interior (03/17)
Court opens window for Navajo Nation trust suit (10/27)
Peabody seeks to dismiss Navajo Nation claim (06/18)
Court appears ready to toss Peabody appeal (04/15)
Supreme Court's trust rulings criticized (4/14)
Navajo Nation back in court over Peabody lease (4/8)
Effects of Supreme Court decision debated (03/07)
High court ruling makes 'passive' trustee of U.S. (3/5)
A mixed bag for Indian trust (3/5)
Supreme Court issues trust decisions (3/4)
Swimmer can't recall Navajo involvement (02/13)
Panel predicts Apache victory (12/4)
Navajo 'deception' gets Supreme Court hearing (12/03)
Peabody sides with Bush administration on trust (09/04)
Legal tactics land Peabody in hot seat (7/22)
Navajo royalty case accepted (6/4)
Don Hodel's Navajo Folly (6/4)
Supreme Court accepts Navajo trust case (6/3)
Navajo royalty case up for review (5/30)
Supreme Court considers 'deception' of trust (5/22)
Action due on Navajo trust case (5/20)
Bush wants Navajo ruling reversed (3/27)
Court rules Navajo Nation owed money (8/14)

Copyright 2000-2004 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Lakota Country Times: Governor lectures tribe about sacred lands (5/3)
Native Sun News: Navajo Nation chapter sues tribe over water deal (5/3)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux Reservation plagued by abuse and assault (5/3)
James Giago Davies: Propaganda machine protects racist mascot (5/3)
Cronkite News: Sports teams turn to tribes for naming rights deals (5/3)
Steven Newcomb: Tricking the original nations into reconciliation (5/3)
Rosebud man selected as leader of South Dakota State University (5/3)
Klamath Tribes report results of election for leadership positions (5/3)
Leaders of Louisiana tribes in conflict over $48M relocation grant (5/3)
Choctaw Nation ordered to pay $11M for casino bus crash deaths (5/3)
Arizona reports 5.1 percent decline in casino revenue from tribes (5/3)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe casino up for discussion at city meeting (5/3)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation hoping to keep gaming lawsuit going (5/3)
Blackfeet Nation welcomes Interior Secretary Jewell to homeland (5/2)
Native Sun News: Family confronts man linked to woman's death (5/2)
Lakota Country Times: State shows cards in fight over sacred site (5/2)
Clara Caufield: Living in a state of emergency on my reservation (5/2)
Mark Trahant: Native newspapers and presidential endorsements (5/2)
Mark Charles: Politicians haven't learned from our genocidal past (5/2)
Kevin Washburn: Land buy-back program benefits Indian Country (5/2)
Ruth Hopkins: Tell indigenous youth that their lives really matter (5/2)
Peter d'Errico: Suicides are outcome of intergenerational trauma (5/2)
Indian Health Service reaches agreements for troubled facilities (5/2)
Native girl survives night alone in forest with help of three dogs (5/2)
Gathering of Nations wraps up with crowning of Miss Indian World (5/2)
University leader doesn't see seal that excludes Natives as racist (5/2)
New bill takes aim at casinos opposed by rival tribes in California (5/2)
Cloverdale Rancheria wins approval of casino land-into-trust bid (5/2)
Mashpee Wampanaog Tribe overcomes hurdles with casino plan (5/2)
Cowlitz Tribe aims to hire locals as casino construction continues (5/2)
Gathering scheduled in June at site of former BIA insane asylum (4/29)
Native Sun News: Tribal college student overcomes challenges (4/29)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ancestors are gone but language lives on (4/29)
Mike Rounds: Eliminate 'hateful' and 'paternalistic' federal laws (4/29)
Harlan McKosato: White privilege fuels Donald Trump's fanbase (4/29)
Indian Health Service faulted for lengthy waits for patient care (4/29)
Mescalero Apache woman to compete for Miss United States (4/29)
Environmental Protection Agency pays little to tribes for spill (4/29)
Measure to declare bison as official mammal ready for Obama (4/29)
John Wayne's negative views about tribes resurface in debate (4/29)
Chumash Tribe picks Kenneth Kahn as first new leader in years (4/29)
Mille Lacs Band announces upgrades as casino marks 25 years (4/29)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe sees warmer reception to casino bid (4/29)
Florida racks up legal bills in gaming fight with Seminole Tribe (4/29)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe sues Indian Health Service over shutdown (4/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee approves eight bills at meeting (4/28)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe to debut justice center (4/28)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne official fired from tribal job (4/28)
Native Sun News: Comments sought on Black Hills mine cleanup (4/28)
Editorial: Native Sun News endorses Hillary Clinton for president (4/28)
Cronkite News: EPA slammed for response to Gold King Mine spill (4/28)
Steve Russell: Donald Trump advisor accuses tribes of terror plot (4/28)
Alex Jacobs: Hillary Clinton must answer to role in Honduras coup (4/28)
Northwest tribes inch closer to reburial of Kennewick Man remains (4/28)
Santee Sioux Tribe hosts task force to address substance abuse (4/28)
Huge crowds flock to New Mexico for annual Gathering of Nations (4/28)
Muckleshoot Tribe to host $50K 'Gold Cup' for Indian relay racing (4/28)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.