A US District Court has refused to overturn the government's ban on new uranium mining on the 1 million acres area near the Grand Canyon watersheds.
The judge David Campbell has refused to annul the 2012 ban imposed by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on uranium mining at Grand Canyon for 20 years without a valid existing right.
The National Mining Association, Nuclear Energy Institute, Northwest Mining Association and others had filed four lawsuits against the ban besides challenging federal authority to enact any withdrawals larger than 5,000 acres.
The Havasupai tribe and conservation groups of the area intervened to support both.
Havasupai tribe attorney Earthjustice Ted Zukoski stated that the decision had foiled the uranium industry’s efforts to deprive the Interior Department of powers to protect lands form mining.
"Today’s opinion upholds the Interior Department’s authority to take such protective measures," added Zukoski.
The mining industry had claimed that the Interior Secretary has no rights to withdraw land parcels larger than 5,000 acres as a part of its unconstitutional legislative veto.
The judge however noted that the unconstitutional veto provision could be cut off without affecting the ban on Grand Canyon mining or Interior Department’s general authority to protect such lands.
Center for Biological Diversity official Taylor McKinnon remarked, "Today’s ruling protects not only the Grand Canyon’s watershed, but millions of acres of other public land that have been withdrawn to protect natural values from destructive mining."