Akin Gump Secures 9th Circuit Rulings on EPA Case on Behalf of Gila River Indian Community

(Washington, D.C.) – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in a pair of unanimous rulings, has denied several challenges to a regulatory proposal spearheaded by the Gila River Indian Community, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted as a final rule. A team from Akin Gump advised Gila River on the matter.

The appeals arose out of the EPA’s regulation of the Navajo Generation Station, a power plant on the Navajo reservation supplied by coal from the Navajo and Hopi Tribe reservations. In this case, application of the Clean Air Act’s default requirements to the station would have had severe consequences for the affordability of water pumped to the Gila River Indian Community’s reservation. In response, Akin Gump led a successful effort on behalf of several stakeholders (including the Department of Interior) to have the EPA adopt a set of alternative requirements. The Hopi Tribe, as well as other individuals and conservationist organizations, appealed the EPA’s final rule.

The Hopi Tribe’s appeal argued that the United States had violated a duty of consultation with the tribe in deciding to adopt the set of alternative requirements. In its decision, the 9th Circuit found that the EPA had in fact “surely complied” with the duty of consultation. It also rejected all of the other procedural and substantive challenges to the final rule, and allowed Akin Gump’s proposal to stand.

The Akin Gump effort was led by American Indian law and policy practice head Don Pongrace and included Julius Chen, counsel in Akin Gump’s Supreme Court and appellate practice, and American Indian law and policy senior counsel Merrill Godfrey.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 900 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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