In Center for Biological Diversity v. Salazar, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was not required to approve a new plan of operations before allowing a uranium mine to resume production after nearly two decades of cessation. The court reasoned that the reopening of an abandoned mine did not constitute the requisite major federal action required to trigger an environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This Comment argues that although the Ninth Circuit correctly affirmed that the BLM complied with NEPA, the ruling exposes an environmentally dangerous loophole that requires statutory revisions. The court’s holding essentially permits mining operators to restart production at mines dormant for decades without undertaking any new environmental reviews. The determination of whether a mine poses a significant threat to the environment is based upon an assessment that could potentially date back several decades.
Arizona’s “Zombie” Uranium Mines: Lax Regulations Threaten Los Angeles Tap Water,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.
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