The National Mining Association and Nuclear Energy Institute have sued the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI ) over the agency’s proposed 20-year ban on new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. Nat’l Mining Ass’n v. Salazar, No. N/A (D. Ariz. filed 2/24/12). The DOI action withdrew more than one million acres of federal land in northern Arizona from mining under the General Mining Law of 1872, as amended. 77 Fed. Reg. 2,563 (1/18/12). Before withdrawal, DOI prepared an environmental impact statement (EIS ) and record of decision (RO D) and issued a Public Land Order announcing the action.
The complaint argues that the EIS , RO D and resulting ban are unlawful and should be set aside. Plaintiffs allege that DOI lacks legal authority under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FL PMA) to withdraw public lands that exceed 5,000 acres from mining activity. They also argue that DOI ’s withdrawal (i) imposes immediate and substantial delays and costs on existing mining claimants, (ii) results in the potential loss of mining claims, (iii) deprives claimants of the value of their investments, (iv) reduces U.S. uranium production, and (v) reduces employment and revenue in northern Arizona. They allege violations of the FL PMA, National Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Procedure Act.