On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in a long-standing issue over jurisdiction with the FMC Corporation.
The issue deals with 22 million tons of hazardous waste currently being stored on the Fort Hall Reservation.
The case goes back to 1998 when FMC Corporation voluntarily agreed to conditions of a Tribal permit to operate a phosphorus plant on the reservation. But when FMC closed operations in 2002, the company did not honor its agreement and left hazardous waste on the reservation.
In 2005, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes sued FMC to force the company to comply with the terms of the Tribal permit and dispose of the waste.
Subsequent rulings have been in favor of the Tribes but FMC has appealed each verdict all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. On Monday, the court ruled rejected FMC’s appeal, meaning the company must comply with Tribal terms.
“This decision helps all of Indian Country in efforts to protect Tribal lands and natural resources as well as the betterment of all people of southeast Idaho,” said Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Devon Boyer. “When industry enters into a voluntary relationship within tribal lands, they must comply with tribal regulations even when the EPA and/or states may have their own regulatory presence.
“The Tribes are very pleased that the Supreme Court of the United States did not find any merit to FMC’s appeal and that FMC is finally required to honor their agreement to comply with Tribal jurisdiction," Boyer added.