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home : latest news : local May 24, 2016

5/23/2013 6:00:00 AM
Despite ruling, lawsuit over mining presses forward

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

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.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

The best thing I have seen recently is that the although approval has been granted to a uranium mining company they will not be able to move the radioactive material because the mine site is completely surrounded by tribal lands and the Navajo’s will not – having learned the hard way about what these companies are – allow the material to travel across their land.

Go Navajo’s!

Posted: Friday, May 24, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

Thanks AN...don't remember that being in the KDM (no surprise) and I don't read the source you mentioned. That's why I qualified my statement.

Of course $20K is pretty much a drop in the bucket on the overall cost. And no info on how much has actually been spent... so....I guess my statement could still be true?

Posted: Friday, May 24, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew


“Though I can't say for certain, odds are that the County is paying absolutely nothing in this suit.”

Yep, you “can’t say for certain.”

From the April 18, 2012 Havasu News Herald - “Mohave county has teamed with mining company Quaterra Alaksa, Ince and filed a lawsuit Monday in Federal court in an effort to reverse a 20-year closure of one million acres of land in Northern Mohave County. … It challenges the land closure … as unjustified when it comes to protecting the Grand Canyon watershed… During a general meeting March 12, the County of Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in favor of SPENDING AS MUCH AS $20,000 TO PARTCIPATE IN THE FILING…”.

Posted: Friday, May 24, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

This county gets far more money from the tourist that visit the Canyon than they do from mining companies, yet Buster and the good ole boys want to spend taxes defending mining interests. Seems a like the county has their priorities a little confused. Is this really how they think the taxpayers want them to spend our money or do they just don't care about we the people.

Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

@trained observer
Though I can't say for certain, odds are that the County is paying absolutely nothing in this suit. The mining companies just wanted the County onboard as a "voice of the people". I'll bet they even payed the travel expenses when Buster went to DC (wasn't it DC?).

Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Article comment by: trained observer

Why does Buster Johnson feel it is necessary to spend the county's money to help out what is mostly foreign interests? Why can't they pay for their own frivolous lawsuits? And no, don't tell me how it will create jobs here. It will just hasten the destruction of the land and water in this state.

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