The Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) have filed suit to get approval rescinded for the Blythe Solar project in the Mojave Desert, saying the 4,000-acre project will destroy huge swathes of sacred sites.
The Mohave, Chemehuevi, Hopi and Navajo tribes’ reservation is just a few miles northeast of the site, putting the project firmly within their ancestral homelands, the complaint alleges. They have sued under the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Federal Land Policy Management Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act, according to Courthouse News.
“The religion and culture of CRIT’s members are strongly connected to the physical environment of the area, including the ancient trails, petroglyphs, grindstones, hammerstones, and other cultural resources known to exist there,” the tribes allege in the complaint, which was filed on December 4 in U.S. District Court Central Division of California, Eastern Division. “The removal or destruction of these artifacts and the development of the Project as planned will cause CRIT, its government, and its members irreparable harm.”
The suit, filed against the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), alleges that the agencies did not adequately consult with tribes before approving the $1.1 billion project on August 1.
“It accuses the government of failing to properly communicate with the tribe prior to approving the massive project,” reported another legal website, Law360.com.
“BLM conducted no government-government consultation with CRIT prior to approval of the project,” the complaint says. “It then allowed the project developer to begin ground-disturbing activities before any cultural resource monitoring or treatment plans were in place.”