In a move that will delay any final decision to approve the proposed Monticello Raceway casino, the U.S. government agreed this week that a decision must first be reached on the adequacy of the Interior Department’s assessment of the $500 million casino’s environmental impact on surrounding communities before the department would be allowed to take the land into trust.
A consortium, led by the Natural Resources Defense League, filed a lawsuit in federal court earlier this year seeking to have a full environmental review conducted before any final approval is granted by the federal government.
“All along, our coalition has called for a full environmental review, establishing how this casino project would forever alter the quality of life for Catskill citizens, before any final decision can be made,” said Kate Sinding, a senior attorney for the NRDC. “We’re pleased that we now have an agreement that will ensure that the court will have ample opportunity to review our claim, assuming the federal government even decides to move forward with this short-sighted proposal.”
According to the agreement among the parties to the lawsuit, the U.S. District Court must hear and rule on this case before U.S. Interior Department Secretary Kempthorne will be allowed to take the land into trust to allow the construction of the casino complex.