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3/25/2013 6:00:00 AM
Johnson: Mohave County still fighting ban on new mines
Buster Johnson
Buster Johnson

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - A federal judge recently upheld the U.S. Interior Department's authority to ban mining on a million acres surrounding the Grand Canyon, but that will not have an effect on Mohave County's argument in the case, according to Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson.

"The ruling doesn't change where the county is going on the lawsuit," Johnson said.

The county joined a lawsuit against the federal government filed by several mining companies in April 2012. The county claims that the federal government did not seek information on the potential economic impact the mining ban would have on local governments.

The mining companies claim that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar based his decision to ban mining 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 Secretary of the Interior 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.

The mining companies argued that the constitution doesn't allow Congress to delegate part of its authority to a government agency and then veto that department's decision later. Congress must change the authority of the agency by passing legislation that the president signs.

The companies argued that the Secretary of the Interior's authority to withdraw federal land was so entwined with the Congressional veto part of the act that if the Congressional veto was unconstitutional, then the whole law should be ruled unconstitutional.

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, he said in his ruling Wednesday.

While the ruling doesn't affect the county's claim against the federal government it does allow the case to move forward, Johnson said. The county is hoping the rest of the case will reach the courts by summer.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: Bring Back Literacy Tests For Voting

Why are we still putting up with this clown? Oh, I know he was voted in. Yea, I suppose he was.

Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Fredom

wake up. Local people we elect should decide local issues. Why not just do away with states and let Washington decide everything for us. You will no longer live in Arizona nor vote for local politicians, you will live in America run by Washington DC with no states and no states rights. Just toss the 10th amendment in the trash. I say tell the Feds to take a hike and build the mine.

Posted: Monday, March 25, 2013
Article comment by: Rick Sherwood

@trained observer
I am in total agreement with you about our location to major hubs. We in addition to Buster's effort on mining should start working on how we can get all these California companies that we keep hearing that are leaving their state to come here.

Posted: Monday, March 25, 2013
Article comment by: Taxpayer Money to Burn

Mines provide very few jobs in return for the costs. Often mining companies take the profits for themselves and leave the public stuck with paying the cleanup costs. In any case, it's lucky that Mohave County has lots and lots and lots of money to pour into lawsuits.

Posted: Monday, March 25, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Hey, Buster, how much is this lawsuit costing ... oh wait, I forgot, it's not YOUR money so it's no big deal. Right?

Posted: Monday, March 25, 2013
Article comment by: just one voice

I have yet to see any articulation of exactly what the "potential economic impact the mining ban" would have on Mohave County. Has anyone done the math? Right now, all I see is money being spent on a lawsuit that could go on a long time. For the mining companies to blame "a flawed" EIS and say that FLPMA is unconstitutional is typical "I didn't get my way, so I'm blaming everyone else". Mining companies have run rampant in AZ, including on public lands. In this case, the Dept of Interior is protecting some of our public lands from being destroyed by a special interest group that is all about the almighty dollar.

Posted: Monday, March 25, 2013
Article comment by: trained observer

We keep hearing about how mines will bring jobs. They bring a few but they also bring environmental damage like poisoned water that can't be fixed.
We have a good airport, and Kingman sits on a major highway. We also have rail access. Why aren't we focusing on those aspects to bring jobs to the area? These are features plenty of communities do not have.

Posted: Monday, March 25, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

How much did Buster get from mining interests. I just wonder why a politician would be in favor of risking hurting the states biggest tourist destination in favor of a few mining companies that have a terrible record of laying waste to the land. Tell us Buster if you received help in your campaign. I think we have a right to know. Just can't help wondering

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