WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. mining industry asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to overturn an Obama-era rule that prohibits the mining of uranium on public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon National Park.
The National Mining Association (NMA) and the American Exploration and Mining Association (AEMA) filed petitions asking the court to reverse the Obama administration’s 2012 ban on new uranium mining claims on more than 1 million acres of public land adjacent to the canyon.
In 2012, Ken Salazar, then the secretary of the interior, instituted the ban for 20 years on the public lands that the Havasupai tribe relies on for water. The ban was upheld by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in December.
NMA spokesman Luke Popovich said his organization was challenging Salazar’s constitutional authority to declare the large land withdrawal, and he said uranium mining does not harm the land.
“There is scant evidence that uranium mining outside the park boundaries poses any threat to either the environment or visitor experience,” Popovich said. He said Salazar ignored a finding by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management that showed mining would have little impact.