In January of 2012, Secretary Salazar announced that he was withdrawing lands near the Grand Canyon. Specifically, the withdrawal prohibits new mining claims and development on old claims that lack “valid existing rights.”
Recently, uranium companies and others have challenged the withdrawal. A portion of Yount’s Second Amended Complaint:
The Secretary of the Interior’s rationale for a withdrawal as stated in his Record of Decision is substantially based on granting an unconstitutional preference for the religious belief of Native Americans proximate to the NAPWA. By deferring to Native American religious and cultural beliefs this appears to convey a message of government endorsement of their religious beliefs contrary to established law.
A portion of Quaterra Alaska, Inc.’s Amended Complaint:
Federal law does not recognize the right to preclude land uses
based solely on religious or cultural sensibilities. Sensibilities or feelings that are separate from a site protected under the NHPA or religious practice protected by RLUIPA and enjoy no legal protection. A withdrawal based on protecting sensibilities independent of legally protected sites and religious practices is arbitrary and capricious and contrary to
law. It is based on irrelevant factors not recognized in law and exceeds the Secretary’s authority.