Appeals court says snowmaking OK on Ariz. Snowbowl

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PHOENIX -- A federal appeals court has approved snowmaking using reclaimed wastewater at the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort north of Flagstaff.

The decision is a blow for American Indian tribes that argue that the use of wastewater on peaks they consider sacred violates their religious freedom.

Last year, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that use of wastewater on the San Francisco Peaks would violate the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

But the full appellate court today overturned that decision. It said the tribes will still have full use of the peaks for their ceremonies and the snowmaking will not affect that.

Attorney Howard Shanker, who represented some of the tribes and environmental groups who sued, expects his clients will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)