2012 October 26
US Department of Interior (DOI) Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA) Law Judge Deborah Luther ruled on October 4 that a 2005 lease agreement between the Pleasant Point tribal government and now defunct Quoddy Bay LNG was invalid from the start. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) violated its own regulations, so the lease "never went into effect as a matter of law.," the judge ruled.
Save Passamaquoddy Bay 3-Nation Alliance's Passamaquoddy tribal member organization Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon (NN), meaning "We Take Care of Our Land," originally took the June 2005 ground lease approval to Federal District Court in November 2005. A number of court hearings, decisions, appeals and court reversals followed. Eventually, it was determined that the U.S. district courts did not have jurisdiction until the issue had gone through the DOI IBIA administrative appeal process. The October 4 IBIA law judge decision fulfills that requirement seven years after the lease was improperly "approved" by the federal government, indicating that the lease was never valid. The judge indicated that her decision also moots the current appeals to previous BIA decisions that were filed by both NN and by Quoddy Bay LNG.
The IBIA judge has asked the parties to file briefs regarding her decision that NN's and Quoddy Bay LNG's appeals are now moot.
Commenting on the Judge Luther's decision, Passamaquoddy tribal member and NN organizer Vera Frances states, "We are pleased with this closure, and know now what we knew then — that the ground lease was always invalid. But what we need to do today is to move on and close this chapter with grace and deep appreciation for that which has always sustained us — Passamaquoddy Bay."
© 2012 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.