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Judge won’t dismiss lawsuit challenging Trump’s shrinking of Bears Ears National Monument

Posted at 7:58 PM, Sep 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-30 22:01:13-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s power to shrink Bears Ears National Monument.

In an order issued Monday night in Washington D.C., U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan denied the Trump administration’s request to dismiss the litigation. She did allow the U.S. Department of Interior to renew its request once a coalition of tribal and environmental groups filed an amended lawsuit.

The litigation hinges in part on whether Native American tribal groups and environmental groups have standing to challenge President Trump’s power. Judge Chutkan also acknowledged the federal government is planning to release a series of management plans for Bears Ears National Monument.

The judge set an Oct. 7 hearing to discuss the future of the lawsuit and any pending legal motions.

The Ute Indian Tribe, Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Zuni Tribe are suing over President Trump’s decision to shrink Bears Ears during a ceremony at the Utah State Capitol in 2017. It was a response to a decision by President Obama to create Bears Ears National Monument in 2016.

A second legal challenge was brought by Utah Diné Bikeyah, Patagonia Works, Friends of Cedar Mesa and others. A third legal challenge was leveled by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., National Parks Conservation Association, The Wilderness Society, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Grand Canyon Trust, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Western Watersheds Project, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and others.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of the state, while San Juan County has dropped out after political changeover in its county commission. Governor Gary Herbert has hoped for a compromise with the Navajo Nation and other tribal groups, but the tribe has said it wants to original boundaries reinstated.

Read the judge’s order here: