The ban on new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon implemented by the Obama administration was effectively upheld on Monday when the US supreme court declined to hear a challenge from the industry.
Environmental groups and Native American communities declared victory when, on the first day of its fall season, the bench announced that the uranium extraction ban was among cases it refuses to review.
An appeals court decision from December 2017 that the ban is legal will now stay in place. Hundreds of mineral deposit claims from Canadian, British and US interests that want to seek out and exploit uranium deposits close to Grand Canyon National Park now remain on hold.
Under Barack Obama, the interior department announced in 2012 a 20-year ban on fresh mining activity, which protects a million acres of public land in the vicinity of the canyon. The ban, also known as a mineral withdrawal, has faced a series of legal challenges from commercial interests.
But Muriel Coochwytewa, chairwoman of the small Havasupai tribe that lives within the canyon and relies on a local river, which forms famous turquoise waterfalls, said: “The mineral withdrawal is a necessary way to protect the land and the water that our people and our village depend upon.”