Court Voids Mine Permit

Albuquerque – A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement to reassess how the expansion of a coal mine on the Navajo reservation will impact the environment and cultural and historic resources.

The San Juan Citizens Alliance and Dine Citizens Against Ruining our Environment sued in 2007, claiming the agency violated federal laws when renewing the mine's permit in 2004 and approving a revised permit in 2005.

Judge John Kane of Colorado voided the approval of the 2005 permit in an order made public late Friday.

The mine, operated by BHP Billiton, supplies coal to a power plant in the Four Corners region.

BHP spokesman Pat Risner says the company is reviewing the decision and has temporarily suspended operations in the section of the mine governed by the permit.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.