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National Mining Association v. Zinke

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20162
Nos. 14-17350, (9th Cir., 12/12/2017)

The Ninth Circuit rejected challleges to a 2012 DOI decision to withdraw from new uranium mining claims, up to twenty years, over one million acres of land near Grand Canyon National Park. The lands were withdrawn, subject to existing valid claims, with the intent to protect water resources in the Grand Canyon watershed and the Colorado River from possible contamination, as well as preserve cultural and tribal resources. Mining companies and local governments challenged the decision, claiming that the FLPMA contains an unconstitutional legislative veto provision not severable from the remainder of the relevant section. A lower court held that the FLPMA provision allowing legislative veto of a land withdrawal was unconstittutional but severable, which left the Secretary of the Interior's authority to withdraw land intact. The appellate court agreed with the lower court's rationale, and held that the Secretary's reasoning for the withdrawal was not arbitrary or capricious, nor were the boundaries set for the withdrawal. Last, the court held that NEPA was not violated as local government was consulted during the process.