The National Mining Association and the Nuclear Energy Institute filed suit against the U.S. Interior Dept. today, to overturn the 20 year ban on mineral exploration and mining on roughly 1 million acres of federal land in northern Arizona [right, hatched areas. Credit, BLM]. The case is National Mining Association v. Salazar, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona.
Gregory Yount, who heads up an Arizona mining company with claims in the area, filed suit earlier this month.
Arizona congressmen from the region tried to attach a rider to a federal transportation bill a couple of weeks ago, to remove the ban, but it failed on procedural grounds.
The Arizona [Flagstaff] Daily Sun editorialized last month that the issue over uranium mining are not as clear as most of the news coverage suggests:
There is no doubt a symbolic message being sent to tourists around the world when the Obama administration imposes a 20-year moratorium on uranium mining in a million-acre buffer zone around Grand Canyon National Park.
It reinforces the image of the Canyon as so special a place that this nation will take special measures to isolate it from industrial encroachment.
But for those of us living and working in the Grand Canyon region, the message is a little more murky. We know that mining will continue, that the risks are less clear-cut than the ban suggests, that regulations and enforcement needed to address those risks that are present are less than adequate, and that the underlying law is now a century and a half out of date.
In other words, it's a lot more complicated than the partisans on either side of this week's pronouncement would have you believe.