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National Mining Association v. Zinke

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

December 12, 2017

National Mining Association, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior; United States Department of the Interior; George E. Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture; United States Department of Agriculture; Bureau of Land Management; Michael Nedd, acting director, Bureau of Land Management; United States Forest Service, Defendants - Appellees, Grand Canyon Trust; Sierra Club; National Parks Conservation Association; Center for Biological Diversity; Havasupai Tribe, Intervenor-Defendants-Appellees. Arizona Utah Local Economic Coalition, on behalf of member the Board of Supervisors, Mohave County, Arizona; Metamin Enterprises Usa, Inc., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior; United States Department of the Interior; George E. Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture; United States Department of Agriculture; Bureau of Land Management; Michael Nedd, acting director, Bureau of Land Management; United States Forest Service, Defendants-Appellees, Grand Canyon Trust; Sierra Club; National Parks Conservation Association; Center for Biological Diversity; Havasupai Tribe, Intervenor-Defendants-Appellees. American Exploration & Mining Association, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior; United States Department of the Interior; George E. Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture; United States Department of Agriculture; Bureau of Land Management; Michael Nedd, acting director, Bureau of Land Management; United States Forest Service, Defendants-Appellees, Grand Canyon Trust; Sierra Club; National Parks Conservation Association; Center for Biological Diversity; Havasupai Tribe, Intervenor-Defendants-Appellees. Gregory Yount, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior; United States Department of the Interior; George E. Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture; United States Department of Agriculture; Bureau of Land Management; Michael Nedd, acting director, Bureau of Land Management; United States Forest Service, Defendants-Appellees, Grand Canyon Trust; Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association; Center for Biological Diversity; Havasupai Tribe, Intervenor-Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued and Submitted December 15, 2016 [*] San Francisco, California

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona Nos. 3:11-cv-08171-DGC 3:12-cv-08038-DGC 3:12-cv-08042-DGC 3:12-cv-08075-DGC David G. Campbell, District Judge, Presiding

          Robert Timothy McCrum (argued), Crowell & Moring LLP, Washington, D.C., for Plaintiff-Appellant National Mining Association.

          Jeffrey Wilson McCoy (argued) and Steven J. Lechner, Mountain States Legal Foundation, Lakewood, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellant American Exploration & Mining Association.

          Constance E. Brooks, Danielle Hagen, and Cody Doig, C. E. Brooks & Associates P.C., Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellant Arizona Utah Local Economic Coalition.

          Gregory Yount, Chino Valley, Arizona, pro se Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Brian C. Toth (argued) and John C. Most, Attorneys; John C. Cruden, Assistant Attorney General; Environment & Natural Resources Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.; Aaron G. Moody, Kendra Nitta, and Sonia Overholser, Office of the Solicitor, United States Department of the Interior; Pamela P. Henderson, Office of the General Solicitor, United States Department of Agriculture; for Defendants-Appellees.

          Edward B. Zukoski (argued), Earthjustice Denver, Colorado; Roger Flynn, Western Mining Action Project, Lyons, Colorado; Aaron M. Paul, Grand Canyon Trust, Denver, Colorado; for Intervenor-Defendants-Appellees.

          Anthony L. Rampton, Kathy A.F. Davis, and Roger R. Fairbanks, Assistant Attorneys General; Bridget K. Romano, Solicitor General; Sean D. Reyes, Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Salt Lake City, Utah; Mark Brnovich, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Phoenix, Arizona; Tim Fox, Attorney General, Department of Justice, Helena, Montana; Adam Paul Laxalt, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Carson City, Nevada; for Amici Curiae States of Utah, Arizona, Montana, and Nevada.

          Heather Whiteman Runs Him and Matthew L. Campbell, Native American Rights Fund, Boulder, Colorado, for Amici Curiae Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Hualapai Tribe of the Hualapai Reservation, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, Morning Star Institute, and National Congress of American Indians.

          Katherine Belzowski, Attorney; Ethel B. Branch, Attorney General; Navajo Nation Department of Justice, Window Rock, Arizona; for Amicus Curiae Navajo Nation.

          Before: Marsha S. Berzon and Mary H. Murguia, Circuit Judges, and Frederic Block, District Judge. [**]

         SUMMARY[***]

         Mining Claims

         The panel affirmed the district court's decision rejecting challenges to the decision of the Secretary of the Interior to withdraw from new uranium mining claims, up to twenty years, over one million acres of land near Grand Canyon National Park.

         The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 ("FLPMA") reserves to Congress the power to take certain land management actions, such as making or revoking permanent withdrawals of large tracts from mineral extraction, 43 U.S.C. § 1714(c), (j). Congress has never exercised its authority under FLPMA to veto a large-tract withdrawal. FLMPA also delegates to the Secretary the power to make temporary or permanent withdrawals of small tracts, and temporary withdrawals of large-tract parcels.

         The district court held that the legislative veto provision of FLPMA was unconstitutional, but severable; and this left the Secretary's challenged withdrawal authority intact.

         The panel held that the appellants, which were mining companies and local governments, had standing to raise the severability issue. The panel further held that the unconstitutional legislative veto embedded in section 240(c)(1) of FLPMA was severable from the large-tract withdrawal authority delegated to the Secretary in that same subsection. The panel held that invalidating the legislative veto provision did not affect the Secretary's withdrawal authority.

         Turning to the merits of the FLPMA claims, the panel rejected appellants' challenges to each of the Secretary's rationales for the land withdrawal. First, the panel held that the Secretary's decision to withdraw the large tract of land to protect water resources in the Grand Canyon watershed and the Colorado River from possible water contamination was not arbitrary, capricious, or not in accordance with the law. Second, the panel held that FLPMA and case law did not prevent the Secretary from withdrawing large tracts of land in the interest of preserving cultural and tribal resources. Third, the panel held that the record supported the conclusion that there would be a significant impact on visual resources and a risk of significant harm to wildlife absent the withdrawal. Finally, the panel held that the agency's findings regarding the quantity of uranium in the withdrawn area were not arbitrary or capricious, as the agency relied on peer-reviewed data and reasonably explained why it did not adopt appellants' alternative version.

         The panel held that the Secretary did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in setting the boundaries of the withdrawn area. The panel also held that the Secretary did not contravene the principle that land management under FLPMA "be on the basis of multiple use and sustained yield." 43 U.S.C § 1701(a)(7). The panel held that consonant with the multi-use principle, the Secretary engaged in a careful and reasoned balancing of the potential economic benefits of additional mining against the possible risks of environmental and cultural resources. Finally, the panel held that the final environmental impact statement took existing legal regimes into account but reasonably concluded that they were inadequate to meet the purposes of the withdrawal.

         Appellant Gregory Youndt alleged that precluding new mining claims on federal land out of concern that the area had sacred meaning to Indian tribes violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The panel held that this Establishment Clause challenge failed under the test in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612-13 (1971).

         The panel also rejected appellants' allegations that the withdrawal violated the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"). First, the panel deferred to the agency's judgment about the proper level of analysis. Namely, the Record of Decision properly concluded that any missing information was non-essential, and the final environmental impact statement identified that missing information, discussed its relevance, weighed the available scientific evidence, and presented its conclusions regarding potential environmental impact based on the available data. Second, the panel held that the Secretary complied with the requirements in FLPMA and NEPA regarding consultation with local government. Specifically, the panel held that the record demonstrated that the Secretary fully acknowledged and considered the local Counties' concerns regarding the withdrawal; and the final environmental impact statement and Record of Decision did consider approved county plans and found no inconsistencies or conflicts in compliance with 40 C.F.R. § 1506.2(d).

         Part of the withdrawn area included land managed by the United States Forest Service, and the Forest Service provided its requisite consent to include the land in the withdrawal area. The panel rejected appellants' contention that the Forest Service's consent to the withdrawal was arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law because it did not comply with the National Forest Management Act's multiple use mandate, 16 U.S.C. § 1604(e), or the terms and conditions of the Kaibab National Forest Plan established under the Act.

          OPINION

          BERZON, Circuit Judge.

         We consider challenges to the decision of the Secretary of the Interior to withdraw from new uranium mining claims, for up to twenty years, over one million acres of land near Grand Canyon National Park. Determining the appropriate balance between safeguarding an iconic American natural wonder and permitting extraction of a critically important mineral is at the heart of the present dispute.

         The fission of uranium atoms into smaller component parts releases a huge amount of energy - enough to sustain a nuclear chain reaction, as scientists discovered in the first half of the last century. The design and construction of nuclear reactors and weaponry followed. In the ensuing years, uranium became, at times, highly valuable, though prices rose and fell dramatically in response to swings in demand. Uranium also entered the cultural lexicon.[1]

         In 1947, large quantities of uranium were discovered in Arizona near Grand Canyon National Park, a treasured natural wonder and World Heritage Site - called, by John Wesley Powell, "the most sublime spectacle in nature." John Wesley Powell, Canyons of the Colorado 394 (1895). Northern Arizona saw limited uranium mining until a spike in uranium prices in the late 1970s led to a uranium mining surge in the 1980s and 1990s, when six new mines opened. But the mining boom did not last. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and consequent decommissioning of large numbers of nuclear warheads, demand for uranium dropped dramatically in the 1990s. Uranium production in much of northern Arizona stopped.

         Prices spiked again in 2007, and renewed interest in mining operations in the region followed. With that resurgence came concerns about the environmental impact of the extraction of radioactive materials such as uranium.

         Reflecting those concerns, then-United States Secretary of the Interior ("the Secretary")[2] Kenneth L. Salazar published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register to withdraw from new uranium mining claims, for a period of up to twenty years, a tract of nearly one million acres of federally owned public land. See Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 ("FLPMA")[3] § 204(c), 43 U.S.C. § 1714 (authorizing the Secretary to make, revoke, or modify such withdrawals subject to certain conditions).[4] After an extended study period, the Secretary issued a Record of Decision ("ROD") in January 2012 announcing the withdrawal of 1, 006, 545 acres.

         Several entities and one private individual opposed to the withdrawal challenged the Secretary's decision in four separate actions filed in the District of Arizona. Parties interested in supporting the withdrawal moved to intervene, including four environmental groups and the Havasupai Tribe. The district court, in two well-crafted opinions, rejected the various challenges to the withdrawal.

         I. Background

         We begin with a brief history of the political and legislative backdrop against which FLPMA was enacted in 1976.

         The Property Clause of the U.S. Constitution vests in Congress the "power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting . . . property belonging to the United States, " including federally owned public lands. U.S. Const., Art. IV, § 3, cl. 2. Congress has long used its authority under the Property Clause to permit the purchase of mining rights and exploration on federal lands, most notably in the General Mining Act of 1872, 30 U.S.C. §§ 22-54. Under that Act, "all valuable mineral deposits in lands belonging to the United States, both surveyed and unsurveyed, shall be free and open to exploration and purchase." 30 U.S.C. § 22.

         From early on, the executive branch has asserted and exercised the authority to withdraw federally owned lands from claims for mineral extraction. See United States v. Midwest Oil Co., 236 U.S. 459, 469-72 (1915). As Midwest Oil recognized, although Congress had delegated no "express statutory authority" to withdraw previously available land from mineral exploitation, the executive branch had made a "multitude" of temporary such withdrawals, and Congress had "uniformly and repeatedly acquiesced in the practice." Id. at 469-71. That acquiescence, Midwest Oil held, constituted an "implied grant of power" from Congress to the executive permitting withdrawal of public lands from mineral extraction claims. Id. at 475. For decades after Midwest Oil, Congress did little to restrain the executive's withdrawal authority, and the executive branch made liberal use of it.

         After World War II, however, demand for the commercial use of public land increased considerably. To address that increased demand, Congress in 1964 established the Public Land Law Review Commission ("PLLRC"), composed of several members of Congress and presidential appointees, to conduct a comprehensive review of federal land law and policy and propose suggestions for more efficient administration of public lands. After several years of study the PLLRC issued a report making 137 specific recommendations to Congress concerning the use and governance of public lands. PLLRC, One Third of the Nation's Land ix-x, 9 (1970) (hereinafter "PLLRC Report").

         The PLLRC Report observed that the roles of Congress and the executive branch with respect to public land use had "never been carefully defined, " and recommended that Congress pass new legislation specifying the precise authorities delegated to the executive for land management, including withdrawals. Id. at 43, 44, 54-55. The Report also recommended that "large scale limited or single use withdrawals of a permanent or indefinite term" should be within Congress's exclusive control, while "[a]ll other withdrawal authority should be expressly delegated with statutory guidelines to insure proper justification for proposed withdrawals, provide for public participation in their consideration, and establish criteria for Executive action." Id. at 54 (emphasis added). The Report did not recommend a legislative veto over any withdrawal authority delegated to the executive.

         In response to the PLLRC's recommendations, Congress in 1976 enacted FLPMA. FLPMA declares as the policy of the United States that "Congress exercise its constitutional authority to withdraw or otherwise designate or dedicate Federal lands for specified purposes and that Congress delineate the extent to which the Executive may withdraw lands without legislative action, " 43 U.S.C. § 1701(a)(4); that "in administering public land statutes and exercising discretionary authority granted by them, the Secretary be required to establish comprehensive rules and regulations after considering the views of the general public[, ] and to structure adjudication procedures to assure adequate third party participation, objective administrative review of initial decisions, and expeditious decisionmaking, " 43 U.S.C. § 1701(a)(5); that "goals and objectives be established by law as guidelines for public land use planning, and that management be on the basis of multiple use and sustained yield unless otherwise specified by law, " 43 U.S.C. § 1701(a)(7)[5]; and that "the public lands be managed in a manner that will protect the quality of scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archeological values; [in a manner] that, where appropriate, will preserve and protect certain public lands in their natural condition; [in a manner] that will provide food and habitat for fish and wildlife and domestic animals; and [in a manner] that will provide for outdoor recreation and human occupancy and use, " 43 U.S.C. § 1701(a)(8).

         As relevant here, FLPMA eliminates the implied executive branch withdrawal authority recognized in Midwest Oil, and substitutes express, limited authority. See Pub. L. 94-579, § 704, Oct. 21, 1976, 90 Stat. 2743, 2792. It reserves to Congress the power to take certain land management actions, such as making or revoking permanent withdrawals of tracts of 5, 000 acres or more ("large-tract" withdrawals) from mineral extraction. 43 U.S.C. § 1714(c), (j). And it delegates to the Secretary of the Interior the power to make withdrawals of tracts smaller than 5, 000 acres ("small-tract" withdrawals), whether temporary or permanent, 43 U.S.C. § 1714(d), and to make temporary withdrawals of large-tract parcels of 5, 000 acres or more, 43 U.S.C. § 1714(c).

         For all withdrawals, whether small- or large-tract, FLPMA requires that the Secretary publish notice of the proposed withdrawal in the Federal Register; afford an opportunity for public hearing and comment; and obtain consent to the withdrawal from any other department or agency involved in the administration of the lands proposed for withdrawal. 43 U.S.C. § 1714(b), (h), (i). The statute also bars the Secretary from further delegating his or her withdrawal authority to any individual outside the Department of the Interior, or to any individual within the Department who was not appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. 43 U.S.C. § 1714(a).

         FLPMA circumscribes the Secretary's temporary large-tract withdrawal authority in three ways relevant here. First, the Secretary may make large-tract withdrawals lasting no longer than twenty years. Second, no later than the effective date of any withdrawal, the Secretary must furnish a detailed report to Congress addressing twelve specific reporting requirements.[6] 43 U.S.C. § 1714(c)(2). Third, FLPMA provides that Congress retains legislative veto power over any large-tract withdrawal.[7] 43 U.S.C. § 1714(c)(1). FLPMA also contains a severability clause: "If any provision of this Act or the application thereof is held invalid, the remainder of the Act and the application thereof shall not be affected thereby." FLPMA § 707, 90 Stat. at 2794 (codified at notes to 43 U.S.C. § 1701).

         Congress has never exercised its authority under FLPMA to veto a large-tract withdrawal. In 1983, the Supreme Court in I.N.S. v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919, 959 (1983), declared one variety of legislative veto provision unconstitutional.[8] Since Chadha, Congress has not amended FLPMA to limit the Secretary's withdrawal authority further.

         A. The Northern Arizona Withdrawal

         Uranium, often found within "breccia pipes" - cylinder-shaped deposits of broken sedimentary rock stretching thousands of feet underground - was first discovered near Grand Canyon National Park in 1947. Only limited uranium mining occurred in Northern Arizona until uranium prices increased in the late 1970s. After that, in the 1980s and 1990s, miners extracted 1, 471, 942 tons of uranium from six new mines. A second spike in the price of uranium in 2007 generated renewed interest in mining operations near the Grand Canyon, manifested in the submission of thousands of new claims.[9]

         The large volume of new claims sparked concerns about the potential environmental impact of increased uranium mining on the Grand Canyon watershed. Uranium mining has been associated with uranium and arsenic contamination in water supplies, which may affect plant and animal growth, survival, and reproduction, and which may increase the incidence of kidney damage and cancer in humans. See, e.g., National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, Radionuclides, 65 Fed. Reg. 76, 708 (Dec. 7, 2000). In response to local concerns, Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva introduced legislation in March 2008 seeking permanently to withdraw over one million acres of federal land abutting Grand Canyon National Park, on the northern side (North Parcel), northeastern side (East Parcel), and southern side (South Parcel) of the Park. Rep. Grijalva's proposed legislation was not enacted.

         In 2009, Secretary Salazar published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register declaring that he proposed to withdraw from new uranium mining claims an area nearly identical to that covered by the Grijalva bill. Notice of Proposed Withdrawal and Opportunity for Public Meeting, 74 Fed. Reg. 35, 887 (July 21, 2009). In compliance with FLPMA's command, the Secretary stipulated that any agency action would be "subject to valid existing rights." Id.; FLPMA § 701(h), 90 Stat. at 2786 (codified at notes to 43 U.S.C. § 1701). The Notice of Intent had the immediate effect of withdrawing the land from new uranium mining claims for two years while the agency studied the anticipated impact of the proposed withdrawal. 74 Fed. Reg. at 35, 887.

         In fulfillment of the Interior's obligation under the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 4332, the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM"), an agency within the Department of the Interior, prepared an Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS") examining the potential environmental impact of the withdrawal. The EIS declared that the underlying purpose of the withdrawal was protecting the "Grand Canyon watershed from adverse effects of . . . mineral exploration and mining" other than those "stemming from valid existing rights." 74 Fed. Reg. at 43, 152-53. To inform the EIS, BLM requested a full report from the United States Geological Survey ("USGS") analyzing soil, sediment, and water samples in the proposed withdrawal area.

         In response, USGS prepared Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5025 (the "USGS Report"). To prepare its report, USGS examined 1, 014 water samples from 428 different sites. It found that 70 samples "exceeded the primary or secondary maximum containment levels" for certain ions and trace elements, including uranium and other heavy metals. The agency also analyzed soil and sediment samples from six sites north of the Grand Canyon, including reclaimed uranium mines, approved mining sites where mining had been suspended, and exploratory sites (sites where there had been drilling but not mining). Consistently high concentrations of uranium and arsenic were discovered at these sites. Water samples from fifteen springs and five wells contained dissolved uranium levels beyond the maximum allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") for drinking water. The USGS Report observed that fractures, faults, sinkholes, and breccia pipes occurred throughout the region and were potential pathways for contaminants, including uranium and arsenic, to migrate through groundwater. The Report acknowledged, however, that the available data on these pathways was "sparse . . . and often limited, " and that more investigation would be required fully to understand groundwater flow paths and the potential impact of uranium mining.

         BLM relied heavily on the USGS Report in preparing its EIS. It used the findings of the USGS Report, as well as additional data gathered during its own two-year study, to assess the risk to five different water resources. These resources included springs and wells connected to perched aquifers; springs and wells connected to the Redwall-Muav aquifer ("R-aquifer"), the main deep aquifer within the Grand Canyon watershed[10]; and surface waters.

         BLM issued a draft EIS in February of 2011; the draft EIS remained open for public comment for 75 days. Interior received over 296, 339 comment submittals, from which it extracted over 1, 400 substantively distinct comments. See Notice of Availability of the Northern Arizona Proposed Withdrawal Final Environmental Impact Statement, 76 Fed. Reg. 66, 747, 66, 748 (Oct. 27, 2011). After reviewing these comments, Interior submitted its final EIS on October 27, 2011.

         In addition to its public comment process, Interior designated several affected counties in Arizona and Utah ("the Counties") as cooperating agencies, [11] and solicited their input.[12] Based in part on the Counties' public comments on the draft EIS, Interior requested further analysis of the anticipated economic effect of the withdrawal and consulted with county representatives. Interior also organized five meetings with cooperating agencies, including the Counties, as well as two public meetings in the region.

         The final EIS and ROD discussed four different withdrawal alternatives. Alternative A was to take no action at all, allowing new mining claims and development to proceed unhindered. Alternative B was to withdraw the full tract of roughly one million acres from new mining claims. Alternative C was to withdraw a substantially smaller tract of roughly 650, 000 acres, which would have excluded 120, 000 acres in the North Parcel outside the Grand Canyon watershed, as well as 80, 000 additional acres in the North Parcel where groundwater is believed to flow away from Grand Canyon National Park. Alternative D was to withdraw an even smaller area, roughly 300, 000 acres.

         The USGS Report, final EIS, and ROD all acknowledged substantial uncertainty regarding water quality and quantity in the area, the possible impact of additional mining on perched and deep aquifers (including the R-aquifer), and the effect of radionuclide exposure on plants, animals, and humans. The USGS Report, for example, recognized that "[a] more thorough investigation of water chemistry in the Grand Canyon region is required to better understand groundwater flow paths, travel times, and contributions from mining activities, particularly on the north side of the Colorado River. The hydrologic processes that control the distribution and mobilization of natural uranium in this hydrogeologic setting are poorly understood." The ROD concluded, however, that there was sufficient data regarding dissolved uranium concentrations in the USGS Report to "inform a reasoned choice, " so the missing information was not essential to its decision. After weighing the data available, the ROD took a measured approach. It observed that a "twenty-year withdrawal will allow for additional data to be gathered and more thorough investigation of groundwater flow paths, travel times, and radionuclide contributions from mining." Because of the uncertainty regarding the movement of groundwater in the region, the ROD explained, Interior could not risk contamination of springs feeding into the Colorado River.[13] The ROD went on to explain that "the potential impacts estimated in the EIS due to the uncertainties of subsurface water movement, radionuclide migration, and biological toxicological pathways result in low probability of impacts, but potential high risk. The EIS indicates that the likelihood of a serious impact may be low, but should such an event occur, significant."

         The final EIS and ROD also stated justifications for the withdrawal other than the risk of groundwater contamination. The ROD noted that "mining within the sacred and traditional places of tribal peoples may degrade the values of those lands to the tribes that use them, " that certain tribes believe "repeated wounding of the earth can kill their deities, " and that "damage to traditional cultural and sacred places is irreversible." The ROD also observed that even if the proposed area were withdrawn in its entirety, eleven new mines could be developed during the twenty-year withdrawal period under valid existing rights. Given this potential for development of new mines, the expected rate of mining development over the ensuing twenty years would roughly match the rate of development at the time of the withdrawal. Any economic impact on local communities would thus not be severe. While recognizing that the level of mining that would go forward in the area during the withdrawal period itself posed a risk of harm, the ROD concluded that additional mining presented a significant added threat to environmental safety and could endanger wildlife and human health.

         Finally, the agency stated that the "unique resources" within Northern Arizona, including the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon, and the "unique landscapes" of the region, support a "cautious and careful approach." The ROD observed that "[w]hile the lands are withdrawn, studies can be initiated to help shed light on many of the uncertainties identified by USGS in [the USGS Report] and by BLM in the EIS."

         B. This Litigation

         After the ROD issued, mining companies and local governments concerned about the economic impact of the withdrawal filed suit challenging the Secretary's action. These parties (collectively "Plaintiffs" or "Appellants")[14]filed four separate suits, one or more of which maintained (1) that section 204(c)(1) of FLPMA, 43 U.S.C. § 1714, which confers on the Secretary of the Interior the authority to make temporary large-tract withdrawals, contains an unconstitutional legislative veto provision not severable from the remainder of the subsection; (2) that the Secretary's withdrawal was arbitrary and capricious, inconsistent with the administrative record, or otherwise not in accordance with FLPMA; (3) that the Secretary failed to comply with NEPA in approving the withdrawal; (4) that the withdrawal violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment; and (5) that the United States Forest Service acted arbitrarily and capriciously, or contrary to law, in granting its consent to the withdrawal.

         After the four cases were consolidated into a single action, Plaintiffs moved for summary judgment on the ground that the legislative veto provision within FLPMA was both unconstitutional and not severable. As a result, Plaintiffs argued, there was no longer any statutory basis for the Secretary's twenty-year large-tract withdrawal authority. Denying the motion, the district court held the legislative veto provision unconstitutional, but severable, leaving the Secretary's challenged withdrawal authority intact. Yount v. Salazar, 933 F.Supp.2d 1215, 1243 (D. Ariz. 2013).

         After discovery, the parties all cross-moved for summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment to Interior and Grand Canyon Trust, upholding the withdrawal against each of the plaintiffs' challenges. The evidence in the record, particularly the USGS Report, final EIS, and ROD, supported the agency's withdrawal decision, the district court concluded, and the agency did not exceed its statutory authority under FLPMA or NEPA. The district court also rejected the plaintiffs' Establishment Clause challenge and ...


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