Federal Judge OKs Uranium Mining Next to Grand Canyon National Park

Decision Allows Mining Without Tribal Consultation or Update Decades-old Environmental Review

PHOENIX, Ariz.— U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell denied a request to halt new uranium mining at the Canyon uranium mine, located only six miles from Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim. The Havasupai tribe and a coalition of conservation groups had challenged the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to allow Energy Fuels Inc. to reopen the mine without initiating or completing formal tribal consultations and without updating an obsolete federal environmental review dating to 1986. At stake are tribal cultural values, wildlife and endangered species, and the risk of toxic uranium mining waste contaminating the aquifers and streams that sustain the Grand Canyon and Colorado River.

“We are very disappointed with the ruling by Judge Campbell in the Canyon Mine case,” said Havasupai Chairman Rex Tilousi. “We believe that the National Historic Preservation Act requires the Forest Service to consult with us and the other affiliated tribes before they let the mining company damage Red Butte, one of our most sacred traditional cultural properties. The Havasupai Tribal Council will meet this week to talk about appealing this ruling.”

The decision fails to protect “Red Butte Traditional Cultural Property,” which the Forest Service designated in 2010 for its critical religious and cultural importance to several tribes, especially Havasupai. As a “traditional cultural property,” Red Butte is eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The Havasupai tribe and conservation groups argued that the Forest Service violated the National Historic Preservation Act by failing to consult with tribes to determine how the adverse impacts of the Canyon Mine on Red Butte could be avoided or mitigated prior to approving mining.

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Contact: Katie Davis


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Banner photo courtesy Flickr/lalo pangue; Grand Conyon photo courtesy Flickr/chensiyuan