Sewage-to-Snow Plan Stopped Short on Sacred Indian Mountains

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Thirteen Native American tribes in Arizona don’t want their sacred mountain defiled by faux snow made from treated wastewater. A federal appeals court ruled that Arizona Snowbowl’s plan to augment the ski season in the San Francisco peaks would violate the tribes’ religious freedom.

Judge William A. Fletcher compared the snow-making plan to conducting Christian baptisms with wastewater. The plan would violate the Religious Freedom Restoration act of 1993, he ruled. Tribal representative Howard Shanker said that the ruling “creates a tremendous precedent for tribes to protect their sacred sites.” Before the ruling, Snowbowl owner Eric Borowsky said that he would sell the resort if the appeals court ruled against him, due to both a string of bad-snow years and the $4 million he spent on environmental impact statements and legal fees.

— Rose Miller

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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