Ninth Circuit Upholds Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Ban

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Department of the Interior’s 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims across 1 million acres of public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon.

The court ruled that the ban, adopted in 2012, complies with the Constitution and federal environmental laws, and that the protected area was not too large, as plaintiff mining companies had argued.

The Havasupai Tribe, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and National Parks Conservation Association intervened in the case in 2013. The groups and the Department of Justice won a 2014 decision by U.S. District Court in Arizona, which upheld Interior’s 2012 uranium mining withdrawal. Mining companies appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit.

The court also rejected a challenge to the Canyon Mine, a uranium mine located on the Kaibab National Forest 6 miles south of Grand Canyon National Park. The court’s decision allows Energy Fuels Inc. to mine.

In January 2012 then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued the 20-year ban that prohibits new mining claims and mine development on existing claims without valid permits. The mining industry claimed that the Interior Department’s evaluation of environmental impacts was inadequate.

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