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Havasupai Tribe v. Provencio

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20182
Nos. 15-15754, (9th Cir., 10/25/2018)

In a modified opinion that withdraws a prior published opinion, the Ninth Circuit found that an environmental group has standing to challenge a uranium mining company's right to operate on land previously withdrawn from new mining claims. The group argued that the U.S. Forest Service violated the General Mining Act of 1872 and FLPMA when it determined that the company had "valid existing rights" predating the Secretary of the Interior's withdrawal of land around Grand Canyon National Park because its predecessors-in-interest had discovered a deposit of minable uranium ore. The district court held that the group lacked prudential standing under the Mining Act and thus did not address the group's claim. On appeal, the appellate court agreed that the claim fell outside the Mining Act's zone of interests, but found that FLPMA, not the Mining Act, formed the legal basis of the claim. Since the group's claim sought to vindicate some of the same concerns underlying the Secretary's withdrawal authority, it fell within FLPMA's zone of interests. The appellate court therefore vacated the district court's judgment with respect to this claim and remanded for consideration on the merits.