PRESENTATION OF LEGISLATION 0104-14:
DELEGATE GEORGE APACHITO
There are two existing laws that we didn’t look at. And Delegate Leonard Tsosie texted and told me that the communities that I represent have no uranium issues. But that’s not true. Uranium mining affects all of us.
And I feel that we put the cart before the horse when we approved RDC
NAVAJO DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ATTORNEY TAYLOR
I found out about Delegate Apachito’s legislation yesterday and I have now studied it and I can say that Navajo Department of Justice supports this legislation. And I want to state as clearly as possible about why.
His legislation is fundamentally consistently with Dine Resources Protection Act and Radioactive Transportatin Act and the settlement negotiated with HRI/URI. That is why we support it.
The legislation it proposes to rescind, fundamentally opposes Dine Resources Protection Act, Radioactive Transportation Act and the settlement negotiated with HRI/URI.
I will summarize why disagree with RDC legislation. The previous legislation deals with four sections of land in sections 8, 9, 16, 17 in Church Rock. Section 8 fee land and 9 is trust land and south is 16 is state land and west of 16 is 17, which is Navajo trust land. It’s important for everyone to understand land status.
Also important to understand that previoius legislatin allowed uranium mining on section 17 which is Navajo trust land and Navajo has jurisdiction over that land. So that allowance is in direct opposition of Dine Resources Protction Act.
Section 8 is private land and URI wants to conduct urnium mining on that private land. Courts ruled Navajo has no regulatory jurisdiction and so we cannot and are not sopping uranium mining on Sectoin 8.
But URI has no access and we believe we have reasonable rights to set reasonable restrictions. The Navajo Council required that company wanting to do uranium mining on or near Navjo land is to clean up and URI has that obligation so RMTI and agreement we enetered into with URI to cleanup section 17 before they can mine on Section 8.
The legislation being rescinded contradicts that agreement and that is second reason why NDOJ opposed RDC actions in firsty place.
What we have is Navajo Nation/NDOJ believes that Delegate Apachito legislation is consistent with Navjao law.
Previous law is entirely inconsistent with Navajo law. That is why we support Delgate Apchito legislation.
I have one more very very brief comment about this. This is in reponse from question and comment by Delgate Leonard Tsosie at previous meeting of RDC. And that was a concern of legal issues here and the fact that he was concened that attorneys can’t guarantee, if saying correctly, if go to court and we have court challenge and losing jurisdiction. That is very ligitmate concern.
But in this case what NDOJ has done is entered into agreement with HRI where HRI consented to jurisdiction of Navaoj by terms of agreement and that involves Montana versus United States so no jurisdictional quesoin pending here.
To lose jurisdiction wud be for US Supreme Court to overrule Montant a long standing precendent.
There is concern but we have pathway forward and that is that HRI agreed to cleanup to standards of Navajo Nation.
And that is why we support legislation of Delegate Apachtio.