The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a 20-year ban on mining uranium around the Grand Canyon Tuesday, killing the latest push by mining companies to develop the area around the national park.
Environmental groups and the Havasupai Tribe joined the lawsuit on the side of the Department of the Interior to keep the ban in place.
“The Havasupai people have been here since time immemorial. This place is who we are,” Havasupai Tribal Chairman Don Watahomigie said in a statement. “The Creator made us protectors of the Grand Canyon. The Havasupai Tribe is gratified to know that the court has recognized the validity of the mineral withdrawal and what we have always known — that this place, these waters and our people deserve protection.”
Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar implemented the ban in 2012 over one million acres of land around the Grand Canyon.
The Trump administration is considering lifting the ban years before it is set to time out, according to a November report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report came in response to a March Executive Order by President Donald Trump on “promoting energy independence and economic growth.”
The most recent lawsuit against the ban was filed by the National Mining Association (NMA), an industry trade group. The NMA has 45 days to pursue a rehearing by the 9th Circuit or a three-judge panel, and it has 90 days from the trial ruling or rehearing rejection to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court’s decision to uphold the ban is “disappointing,” NMA spokesman Luke Popovich told the Washington Post. The Trump administration and Congress should be “working with the impacted states, to reevaluate whether the withdrawal was justified based on the scientific, technical and socioeconomic facts.”
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