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Guest Post: Oral Argument Set for Tomorrow in NEI Complaint on Mining in Arizona Strip

The following is a guest blog post submitted by Ellen Ginsberg, vice president, general counsel and secretary of the Nuclear Energy Institute.

On March 1, 2013, the federal District Court of Arizona will hear oral argument on the NEI’s pending motion for summary judgment in its challenge to the Secretary of Interior’s withdrawal of over one million acres of public lands in Northern Arizona, including promising uranium deposits, under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (“FLPMA”).

NEI, joined by the National Mining Association, has argued that the Secretary of Interior lacked authority for the withdrawal in light of an unconstitutional legislative veto in the provision of FLPMA relied upon by the Secretary in issuing the withdrawal. The government has already conceded that the provision’s legislative veto is unconstitutional, leaving to be decided whether or not the remainder of the provision and the Secretary’s authority to issue such large-scale withdrawals survives.

Map detail of the "Arizona Strip," courtesy of Arizona State University.
This week’s argument comes on the heels of the district court’s order earlier this year confirming NEI’s standing to raise its constitutional challenge, in addition to claims under FLPMA and the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). The case is National Mining Association v. Salazar, No. 12-8038, consolidated under lead case Yount v. Salazar, No. 11-8171.

Editor's Note: We expect to have some comments from NEI's counsel on the ground in Arizona. Please follow our twitter feed tomorrow for a live update.

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