The Northwest Mining Association (NWMA) has joined the National Mining Association (NMA) in opposition to the Obama administration’s decision to withdraw one million acres buffering the Grand Canyon National Park from new mining claims for 20 years.
Like the NMA, the NWMA filed suit challenging the ruling. The NWMA accused the Obama administration of “unnecessarily and illegally blocking access to hundreds of millions pounds of the highest-grade uranium ore in the county that, if mined, would generate enough electricity to power Los Angeles for at least 154 years.”
The NMA, along with the Nuclear Energy Institute, filed its suit on Feb. 27. Both challenges say the withdrawal of federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service in the “Arizona Strip” district “violates the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).” NWMA is being represented in the suit by the Mountain States Legal Foundation.
NWMA Executive Director Laura Skaer, said, “The withdrawal is a purely political decision emanating from Washington, D.C.”
The NWMA contends Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision “dangerously and unnecessarily removes from production a significant percentage of our nation's uranium reserves. ...It is critical that we have a secure domestic supply of the uranium needed for nuclear generating stations. We are already importing over 90 percent of our needed uranium.”
"According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Arizona Strip holds 42 percent of the nation's estimated undiscovered uranium endowment,” Skaer said. “This is the equivalent of 13 billion barrels of oil.
“Restricting access to uranium reserves that can help provide the nation with low-cost electricity generation, with no environmental benefit or necessity, is illogical, short-sighted and dangerous,” she added.
The Arizona Strip, which lies north of the Colorado River in northern Arizona, is bordered to the south by the northern rim of Grand Canyon National Park. In 1984 Congress designated 250,000 acres of federal land on or near the Arizona Strip as wilderness and released 600,000 acres of land in the same area for multiple use, including uranium mining. “The clean and environmentally responsible operations of the uranium industry in that area to date have been a testament to this having been the right decision,” the NWMA asserts.
Both the NWMA and the NMA and Nuclear Energy Institute lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.