Sunday, January 13, 2013

Court decision supports companies, counties over uranium withdrawal

The US District Court for Arizona denied efforts by environmental and anti-mining groups and the US Dept. of Interior to keep mining companies and Mohave County from suing over their economic losses due to the withdrawal of a million acres in northern Arizona  from mineral exploration and development [right, withdrawn areas outlined in red.  Credit, BLM], principally focused on uranium.  

Judge David Campbell's order upheld the positions of Gregory Yount, National Mining Association, Northwest Mining Association, Quaterra Alaska Incorporated, and a coalition of Arizona and Utah counties and city of Fredonia, that they have the right to sue over their allegations of substantial economic losses due to violations in imposing the land withdrawal.

The judge's decision was not a surprise to most observers.

The judge's opinion noted that “The Coalition [of local governments] has alleged facts showing that projected state revenues that flow to Mohave County from the mining industry will be significantly reduced as a result of the withdrawal. The Coalition alleges that but for the withdrawal “there would be over a 40-year period: 1,078 new jobs in the project area; $40 million annually from payroll; $29.4billion in output; $2 billion in federal and state corporate income taxes; $168 million in state severance taxes; and $9.5 million in mining claims payments and fees to local governments.” The complaint plausibly alleges, and the Court must take as true, that loss of Mohave County’s share of this revenue will impair the county’s ability to carry out county functions, including paving its 1,277 miles of unpaved roads and managing its desert tortoise habitat, both stated goals of its Land Use Plan.”



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