New lawsuit to reverse Grand Canyon uranium mining ban

Canadian mining company Quaterra Alaska and county supervisors in northern Arizona have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, aiming to reverse a federal 20-year closure of one million acres of uranium-rich public lands located near the Grand Canyon.

The subsidiary of Vancouver-based Quaterra Resources and the Mohave County Board of Supervisors want the Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management to stand down and release the lands.

Specifically, the suit alleges that the facts and science demonstrate that mining would not harm the Grand Canyon watershed and that the withdrawal of Federal lands regardless of this evidence was “arbitrary and capricious.”

“The decision arbitrarily withdraws over one million acres to address subjective sensibilities which enjoy no legal protection; the Secretary did not comply with the procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act; and, the Secretary did not address scientific controversies and failed to coordinate with Local Governments in making his decision,” said Quaterra in a statement.

In February this year, the U.S. Nuclear Energy Institute and the U.S. National Mining Association (NMA) sued the U.S. Interior Department, as they also wanted the Obama administration to revoke the ban on new uranium mining around the Grand Canyon.

As it reads in the complaint filed in federal court in Arizona, the two bodies, representing mining and nuclear power companies, aim to get the green light for new hard-rock mining claims on about 1 million acres (405,000 hectares) of land.

No decision on that lawsuit has been made yet.

Uranium mining in the disputed area, reports The News Herald, could create at least 1,078 jobs over a 40-year period, and result $2 billion revenues in federal and state corporate income taxes, $168 million in state severance taxes and $9.5 million in mining claims payment and fees to local governments.