Editorial: Hopi Tribe lawsuit over fake snow seems misguided

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

That seems to be the mantra among lawyers involved in litigation over snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks.

The first major round of lawsuits went after the U.S. Forest Service, which approved the permits for using reclaimed wastewater at the ski area, the first project of its kind in the United States. Area tribes and others lost their legal claims that it violated their religious rights. Now they are suing on environmental and human health grounds, although they have yet to win at any court level.

The next step is to go after the vendor -- in this case, the city of Flagstaff. The city council in 2002 approved a long-term sales contract with Snowbowl, and last fall a different council declined to amend it by substituting drinking water for treated effluent.

Lawyers for the Hopi Tribe are now suing Flagstaff, using a combination of arguments from the religious freedom lawsuit and the adverse environmental and health impact claim.

We're not attorneys, but on its face, the lawsuit seems misdirected. It alleges harm -- desecrating a sacred site, polluting a watershed, endangering skier health -- by a party that is not directly responsible for it. Flagstaff is simply selling a product, not directing how it should be used."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Drinking water for snowmaking still an option (The Arizona Daily Sun 9/1)

Related Stories:
Earth 911: Skiing on reclaimed wastewater -- gross or green? (8/30)
Uprising: Hopi Tribe fights to keep wastewater off sacred site (8/29)
Fast Company: Hopi Tribe fights bid for fake snow at sacred site (8/25)
Hopi Tribe files lawsuit to block use of wastewater at sacred site (8/24)

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