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 continues top-level access at Interior
Wednesday, March 17, 2004

An internal investigation released on Tuesday shows that Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles met at least a dozen times with representatives of Peabody Coal, the company at the center of the Navajo Nation's billion-dollar breach of trust and racketeering lawsuits.

The high-profile cases accuse the world's largest coal company of conspiring with top Interior officials to deny the tribe a high royalty rate on its coal assets. The lawsuits are pending in the federal courts and carry a price tag of at least $1.2 billion.

Federal approval of Peabody's mining agreement came during the Reagan administration, when Griles oversaw the office that recommended the tribe receive a 20 percent royalty rate for what has been called one of the most valuable coal deposits in the world. But after a Peabody lobbyist met with then-Interior secretary Don Hodel to protest, a decision in favor of the high rate was suppressed. The tribe, under intense economic pressure, ended up settling for 12 percent.

Nearly two decades after the debacle, Peabody continued to enjoy top-level access to department officials, the report shows. On at least 11 occasions, Griles met with Peabody to discuss the company's coal mines on the Navajo and Hopi reservations, and on at least two occasions, he discussed the company's proposal to build a power plant near a national park.

Griles was never a lobbyist for Peabody, the world's largest coal company. But he did represent the National Mining Association, an industry organization that paid Griles and business partner more than $140,000 in lobbying fees from 1997 to 2000. Peabody belongs to the organization.

The close ties and the media attention they received were enough for Inspector General Earl E. Devaney to review Griles' dealings with Peabody. But since the company was not a client, the report did not draw a conclusion on whether the contacts were appropriate.

For some Navajo leaders, however, Griles' return to the halls he once occupied in the 1980s has been enough to warrant alarm. Tribal leaders were incensed when Griles and Ross Swimmer, who approved the lower-paying Peabody lease as head of the BIA, were appointed by the Bush administration to top positions.

According to the report, Griles defended his meetings with Peabody as a necessary part of the job. The Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, the company and other parties have been meeting to determine the future of the Black Mesa mines. Griles has been "coordinating efforts" between the Office of Surface Mining and the BIA, the report stated.

At one point, Griles was deposed by the Navajo Nation as part of its legal actions. Swimmer also testified under oath but failed to recall doing so when asked on a number of occasions.

In a highly-anticipated March 2003 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the tribe's breach of trust claim against the federal government. In a 5-4 decision, the justices said the law the tribe cited did not give rise to money damages. The majority found no problem with Peabody's close contacts with top Interior officials.

But last October, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals left an opening for the tribe to pursue the $600 million claim based on other laws. The decision was unanimous.

Separately, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has kept the tribe's lawsuit against Peabody alive despite the company's heated efforts to have it dismissed, or alternatively, delayed. Under federal racketeering laws, the tribe could collect up to three times the damage allegedly suffered.

Peabody denies any wrongdoing in the matter. Company representatives point out that the mines have created hundreds of jobs for Navajo and Hopi tribal members and contribute a significant amount of revenue to each tribal government.

Read the Report:
J. Steven Griles Investigation (March 2004)

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

Related Stories:
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...

Latest Headlines:

Indian Country suffers from highest diabetes rate as program hangs in limbo
House approves bill to authorize life-saving road for Native village in Alaska
Gyasi Ross: Wealthy white man perpetuates poverty porn in Indian Country
André Cramblit: Summer is a time to keep the world in balance with dance
Review: Fictional book about 'Lakota' people deserves benefit of the doubt
Tohono O'odham Nation secures approval of updated Class III casino deal
Ho-Chunk Nation sees more support for Wisconsin off-reservation casino
Trump team considers 'new' hurdles for off-reservation land applications
Cronkite News: Sen. McCain vows to return after brain cancer diagnosis
Steven Newcomb: Christian domination serves as basis for 'Indian' law
Terese Mailhot: Go home with your racism and your rinky dink blankets
Former U.S. Attorney urges energy industry to consult tribes in advance
Samish Nation still waiting for decisions on land-into-trust applications
Interior employee blames reassignment on advocacy for Alaska Natives
Shoshone-Paiute Tribes lay claim to ancestral remains uncovered in Idaho
Poarch Band of Creek Indians ready to debut amusement park in Alabama
Pessamit Innu cross Canadian border to fight power line in New Hampshire
Wilton Rancheria takes another huge step forward for casino in California
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe urged to consider all options for stalled casino
Connecticut tribes sign new gaming agreements to account for new casino
Bishop Paiute Tribe wins ruling in another sovereignty dispute with county
Lawmakers debate another Indian bill though none have gone to Trump yet
Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Tribes make history with dental therapist
Oklahoma tribes won casino approvals on last day of Obama administration
Arne Vainio: Dignity and respect belong to all of us and cannot be hoarded
Doug George-Kanentiio: Religious doctrines remain at root of 'Indian' law
Mark Trahant: Republicans still unable to govern in the Donald Trump era
Cronkite News: McCain calls for compromise on health amid health crisis
Ho-Chunk Nation remains hopeful for off-reservation casino in Wisconsin
Kialegee Tribal Town confirms interest in gaming facility on allotment
Trump administration officially rescinds pro-treaty rights legal opinion
Key House committee moves forward with funding bill for tribal programs
Democrats host session on impacts of GOP health bill in Indian Country
Mark Trahant: Buckle up as Republicans try to repeal Affordable Care Act
Harold Monteau: It's time to bring 'tribalization' to the Indian Health Service
Sonny Skyhawk: America can't be proud of its treatment of Native peoples
Wilton Rancheria again wins backing for casino land-into-trust application
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules hearing on human trafficking
Mark Trahant: Republicans once again forced to delay vote on health bill
YES! Magazine: Decolonize your diet with indigenous and healthy foods
Mary Annette Pember: Oglala Sioux Tribe works on law enforcement pact
Tiffany Midge: Even more hilarious conversations with my Lakota mom
Kayla DeVault: Navajo Nation must take a stand to protect homelands
Rosebud Sioux man dies after being tased and struck by police officers
Cayuga Nation leadership finally recognized by Bureau of Indian Affairs
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation hits milestone on gaming revenues
Kialegee Tribal Town aims to approve gaming at allotment in Oklahoma
House approves land-into-trust bills for tribes amid concerns about process
President Trump doesn't seem to know where Dakota Access Pipeline goes
North Dakota still hoping to secure taxpayer funds for #NoDAPL response
Terese Mailhot: Decolonization is about removing control over our peoples
Authorities seek information on fatal hit-and-run of Otoe-Missouria man
Mohegan Tribe reports 7.6 percent increase in slot machine revenues
Indian Country outnumbered at hearing on Indian Reorganization Act
Peter d'Errico: The Sioux Chef cooks up a 'wake-up call' with first book
Bad River Band benefits from Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations
Former Indian Health Service executive indicted for accepting cash gift
Trump administration set to advance copper mine on sacred Apache site
Pascua Yaqui Tribe helps other nations with enhanced travel documents
Cow Creek Band gives tribal name to coffee roasting production company
>>> 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.