Pueblo of Picuris, New Mexico


The pueblo plans to appeal a judge's decision that allows expansion of one of the nation's largest mica mines. "The permit the state gave the mica mine violates the law, and the pueblo will not give up its fight to get that permit thrown out,'' said Doug Wolf, attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center. Wolf filed notice March 29 that he would appeal the ruling to the state Court of Appeals. State District Judge Stephen Pfeffer of Santa Fe last month dismissed the tribe's challenge to a permit for Oglebay Norton Co. to expand the mine near the pueblo. The judge said the pueblo should have appealed the permit to the state Mining Commission before it sued the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. The 60-day period for such an appeal has since expired. State mine regulators approved a 20-year expansion of the mine. Last summer the pueblo sued the state, alleging the Cleveland, Ohio-based mining firm lacked the space to put waste rock from the mine and therefore the permit was invalid. Environmentalists estimate the mine would generate 40 times more waste than there was room. Picuris potters traditionally gathered mica in the form of micaceous clay. The mine sells mica for construction materials and cosmetics.