MOHAVE COUNTY NEWS RELEASE
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
KINGMAN – Attorneys for Mohave County and Quaterra Alaska, Inc. filed a lawsuit Tuesday, April 17, against the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and BLM Director Robert V. Abbey.
“It’s a sorry state of affairs when this county government has to sue the federal government,” Chairman of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors Buster Johnson said. “We are using our finite resources to pay for a lawsuit to stop the feds from taking our land and our economic future.”
Attorneys Constance Brooks and Michael Marinovich of C.E. Brooks and Associates of Denver, Colo., and William Klain of Lang, Baker and Klain out of Scottsdale have filed the Quaterra, Mohave County suit to challenge the action of Salazar, which took place on January 9, 2012, “to close more than one million acres of federal land to all mining….,” the legal document states.
Quaterra Alaska, Inc. is registered to conduct exploration and mineral operations in the states of Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
According to the suit, proper procedures under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) were not followed. “Had defendants followed the FLPMA and NEPA procedures, they could not have rationally concluded that the million acre withdrawal was necessary to protect the natural resources and, in particular, the Grand Canyon watershed. The overwhelming scientific data show that uranium mining of breccia pipe formations within the withdrawal would have no adverse impacts on the Colorado River or its watershed.”
The document states defendants have ignored both science and facts in actions and have deprived “Mohave County, as well as the state of Arizona, of tens of millions of dollars in revenues and jobs, further inhibiting the state and local government efforts to recover from the worst economic recession in 80 years.”
Johnson, who has testified before the Senate and Congressional Western Caucuses regarding the negative effects of Salazar’s action, is pleased he had unanimous support from the Mohave County Board of Supervisors to join the lawsuit.
“The DOI action has a hugely negative impact on our (Mohave County’s) economic development efforts, environmental interests and statutory functions,” he said. “Salazar does not have the authority to do these things. This kind of taking of land, power and oversight from states, counties and legal investors can only be accomplished through an act of Congress. But the Obama Administration can get away with it as long as no one challenges them.
“It’s too bad we have to spend Mohave County funds to show the federal government the legal way to do things,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, Congress will take back the power they have, and use it.”
The lawsuit states that, since 2005, Quaterra has invested more than $12 million in the Arizona Strip, “which represents approximately 30 percent of the company’s total exploration expenditures for North America.”
In 2009, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors voted to support uranium mining in the northern county because “it creates jobs, provides critical fuel for nuclear power plants, does not adversely affect the local groundwater aquifers or threaten the Grand Canyon,” the document states. “Every metric ton of mined uranium used in place of coal saves the emission of 40,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.”
Mohave County receives a significant amount of electricity from the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, Johnson said. “Uranium mining is a lot different than it was 50 years ago. Today’s mining companies are proud of their environmental records. The use of new technology and risk management protects the environment and employees and that just makes good business sense; and so does producing resources in our own country rather than buying them from unfriendly nations.”
The Grand Canyon National Park, established in 1907, currently encompasses more than 1.2 million acres of land on both sides of the Colorado River.
“There is no mining in the national park,” the lawsuit states. “In 2000, President (Bill) Clinton closed another 1.3 million acres of public lands in northern Arizona to all forms of mineral entry and development by creating the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument.”
“That monument contains resources we will never be able to touch,” Johnson said. “And now the feds have locked us out of an area that contains the highest grade and most profitable mined uranium ore in the United States.”
“Including Grand Canyon National Park, the national monuments, the North Kaibab National Forest, various wilderness areas, and (now) the NAW (Northern Arizona Withdrawal), more than 4.36 million acres are closed to mineral development which is approximately 6 percent of all of the federal land in the State of Arizona,” the lawsuit states.
“It’s time to draw a line in the sand,” Johnson said. “This suit does that. Enough already! Uranium and all mining efforts are environmentally clean and safe. The federal government’s current efforts are to take land away from humans, American citizens, and, in doing so, curtail job growth while dooming us to continue purchasing foreign energy. Mohave County has taken a stand to fight this blatant, in-your-face act by the federal government.
“Hopefully, we will draw a quick court procedure and, with the evidence so overwhelmingly in our favor, the judge will stop Salazar from going ahead with the mining ban,” Johnson said.
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