The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today released two opinions affecting uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, one case was brought by the Havasupai Tribe and environmental groups, and the other by the National Mining Association.
The court upheld the Interior Department’s 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims near the Grand Canyon. The case was brought in response to the 2012 decision by then-Secretary Ken Salazar to prohibit new mines on nearly a million acres.
The opinion, however, doesn’t prevent current Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke from undoing the ban.
The 9th Circuit also rejected a challenge by the Havasupai Tribe to the Canyon Mine operated in the area now off limits to new claims. The court ruled Energy Fuels Resources’ right to mine pre-dates the uranium ban.
It comes despite concerns over tribal sacred sites, and potentially negative effects on the Grand Canyon’s environment and watershed.