NORTHWEST MINING ASSOCIATION v. SALAZAR
|| Whether the Secretary of the Interior may withdraw over 1,000,000 acres of public lands from entry and location under the General Mining Law without fully and correctly analyzing the purported environmental consequences of such an action?
|| Northwest Mining Association (NWMA)
||Kenneth L. Salazar, Secretary, Department of the Interior; United States Bureau Of Land Management; Thomas J. Vilsack, Secretary, Department of Agriculture; and United States Forest Service
|| U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona
|| On June 19, 2012, MSLF filed its opposition to the motion to dismiss filed by the United States.
|| A ruling on the pending motion.
|| The Arizona Strip, which lies north of the Colorado River in northern Arizona, is bordered to the south by the northern rim of Grand Canyon National Park. In the 1984 Arizona Wilderness Act, Congress designated 250,000 acres of federal land on or near the Arizona Strip as wilderness and released 600,000 acres of land in the same area for multiple use, including uranium mining, as a result of an historic compromise among environmental groups, uranium mining interests, the livestock industry, and others.
In July 2009, Secretary Salazar proposed to withdraw from operation of the General Mining Law 633,547 acres of BLM lands and 360,002 acres of National Forest lands in the Arizona Strip for up to 20 years to “protect the Grand Canyon watershed from adverse effects of locatable hardrock mineral exploration and mining.”
In February 2011, the BLM issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) regarding the proposed withdrawal in response to which the NWMA filed comments noting that uranium mining is not a threat to the environment of the Grand Canyon or the Colorado River watershed, given the scores of state and federal laws enacted to protect those resources.
In June 2011, Secretary Salazar issued an emergency withdrawal of the lands; in October 2011, the BLM issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS); and, in January 2012, Secretary Salazar issued an order withdrawing over one million acres of federal land from operation of the General Mining Law for 20 years. On March 6, 2012, MSLF filed a complaint on behalf of the NWMA asserting that Secretary Salazar’s closure of lands managed by both the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the “Arizona Strip,” violates the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).