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Navajo Nation announces settlement for Peabody lease dispute

The Navajo Nation reached a settlement in a long-running dispute over a coal lease with Peabody Energy.

During the Reagan administration, the tribe sought to renew its lease with Peabody for a large coal mine on the Arizona portion of the reservation. The new deal called for the tribe to receive a 20 percent royalty rate.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs initially backed the higher rate. But after a lobbyist for Peabody secretly met with then-Interior secretary Donald Hodel, the tribe was forced back to the table and was told that an administrative appeal in Washington, D.C., wasn't coming any time soon.

As a result, the tribe accepted a royalty rate of 12.5 percent. The difference could have meant another $600 million for the tribe.

The tribe only found out about the secret meeting through a lawsuit against the federal government. The tribe subsequently sued Peabody but after more than a decade of litigation, the parties settled for undisclosed terms.

"The Navajo Nation is pleased the parties were able to come together in a spirit of cooperation to settle this long-standing litigation," Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said in a press release.

Get the Story:
Navajo Nation settles coal mining royalty case (AP 8/5)

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