The U.S. National Mining Association filed papers in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona challenging the constitutionality of the Secretary of the Interior’s (DOI) recent withdrawal from hard rock mining of 1 million acres of land in Arizona. The NMA is also challenging the environmental impact statement filed by DOI and the department’s compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
“The secretary’s million-acre land withdrawal is constitutionally invalid,” said Hal Quinn, president and CEO, NMA. “Specifically, the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in INS v. Chadha (1983) instructs that the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) provision authorizing land withdrawals greater than 5,000 acres rests upon an unconstitutional legislative veto mechanism. In INS v. Chadha, the Supreme Court found the challenged statute violated the Presentment Clause of the Constitution by authorizing a congressional veto of executive agency action without giving the president an opportunity to consent or object. Secretary Salazar’s predecessor, former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, previously conceded that FLPMA section 204(c) was likely ‘fatally impaired’ by the Chadha decision.
“Further, DOI has provided no evidence in the record or in its environmental impact statement that a million-acre land grab is necessary to avoid environmental harm; it has inadequately analyzed the economic impact of its actions; and the department has failed to rigorously evaluate the ‘no action’ alternative required by NEPA,” Quinn said