PHOENIX — Conservation groups celebrated a federal judge’s ruling that denied a motion to overturn the Obama administration’s ban on uranium mining on 1 million acres of public land near the Grand Canyon.
The decision by U.S. District Judge David Campbell in Phoenix rejected arguments from uranium mining interests that the federal government couldn’t withdraw such a large tract.
“If it had been instituted, it really would’ve crippled the ability of the Interior Department to say, ‘Hold on, we need to take some time to set these lands aside because there’s other lands out there we want to protect,’ ” said Ted Zukoski, an attorney with the environmental law firm Earthjustice.
The 20-year moratorium was adopted in January 2012 to protect the canyon’s watersheds by prohibiting new mining claims and any development on old claims that lacked “valid existing rights.”
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