Despite ruling, lawsuit over mining presses forward
5/23/2013 6:00:00 AM
By Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
KINGMAN - A federal judge will not reconsider his ruling that the U.S. Interior Department can ban new hard rock mining on federal land surrounding the Grand Canyon.
District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson said the judge's refusal should have no bearing on the county's case against the federal government.
"Our case is still going ahead," he said.
Mohave County joined a civil suit filed by several mining companies against the federal government in 2012.
The companies sued after Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar ordered that 1 million acres of federal land surrounding the Grand Canyon be closed to all new mining claims for the next 20 years. The area includes part of northern Mohave County, which has several deposits of high-grade uranium ore.
The mining companies claim that Salazar based his decision on a flawed environmental impact statement and that the Bureau of Land Management did not follow federal law when creating the statement.
The companies also claim that the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which grants Salazar the authority to remove public land from use, is unconstitutional.
The law grants the secretary the authority to remove 5,000 acres or more of federal land from public use for up to 20 years without approval from Congress. The act also grants Congress the authority to veto the secretary's decision.
U.S. District Judge David Campbell agreed that the Congressional veto section of the law is unconstitutional. However, that part of the law could be easily separated from the rest of the law.
In their motion for reconsideration, the mining companies stated that Campbell misunderstood Congress' intent behind adding a legislative veto to the FLPMA.
"Plaintiffs have argued that 'strong evidence' exists supporting that Congress would not have enacted an executive large-tract (land) withdrawal authority without the attached legislative veto," the companies state in their motion.