Mining advocates sue over ban near Grand Canyon

February 28, 2012 - 11:05 AM

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The National Mining Association and the Nuclear Energy Institute are suing the federal government over a 20-year ban on new hard rock mining claims near the Grand Canyon.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the prohibition last month that covers more than a million acres rich in high-grade uranium ore reserves.

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act gives the Interior secretary the ability to withdraw 5,000 or more acres but not for longer than 20 years without congressional approval.

The lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Arizona asks a judge to declare the act unconstitutional. The mining advocacy groups also contend that Salazar's office relied on old and inaccurate information for an environmental analysis.

A spokesman for the Interior Department declined comment, citing pending litigation.