A U.S. federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling keeping an Obama-era ban on uranium mining around the Grand Canyon.
In a separate decision Tuesday, the three-judge panel allowed a nearby uranium mine to open, although a Native American tribe and environmentalists argued the Energy Fuels’ Canyon Mine near the rims of the Grand Canyon would threaten its watershed.
The National Mining Association had sought to overturn the 20-year uranium mining moratorium around the Grand Canyon installed by former President Barack Obama in 2012. The Trump administration is seeking to scrap the rule.
Obama’s directive banned all new hard-rock mining claims in 1 million acres of public land outside the Grand Canyon for two decades as a way to protect watersheds from uranium pollution.
“Withdrawal of the area from new mining claims for a limited period will permit more careful, longer-term study of the uncertain effects of uranium mining in the area and better-informed decision making in the future,” the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said in its ruling.
Last month, the Forest Service, which is part of the Department of Agriculture, released a report recommending lifting the mining ban around the Grand Canyon.
Republicans and industry groups say the ban was overly expansive and that it could harm economic opportunity.
A House subcommittee on energy and mineral resources is holding a hearing on the mining rule Tuesday afternoon.
The committee's Republican leaders say the withdrawal of lands from mining makes the U.S. dependent on foreign countries for minerals.