Groups have argued that the government should have to notify them of any planned oil, gas or mineral extraction within the boundaries of the redrawn monument, and that they’ve become aware of some mining activity at an old uranium mine within the original boundaries which was established by former President Barack Obama. Such mining activities would have been blocked without President Donald Trump’s December 2017 order to remove 1.1 million acres from the monument.
Plaintiffs include the Hopi, Navajo, Ute Indian, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni tribes, as well as environmental and conservation interests. They had requested in January that the federal government notify them of any proposed mining requests within 48 hours, but Judge Tanya S. Chutkan responded, “At this time, I’m not going to require the government to provide notice,” according to a motion filed in the case reported in the Salt Lake Tribune.
The judge should revisit her decision given the new information, plaintiffs say, and require the Interior Department to notify them of all “developments related to extractive and/or land-disturbing activity” on lands that were part of the original Bears Ears monument. “Without this notice, plaintiffs are unable to preserve the status quo or know when their interests have been affected,” lawyers for the plaintiffs wrote in their motion.
Attorneys for Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and other parties named in the suit did not oppose the status hearing but argue in their own motion that the plaintiffs have access to publicly available information on mining claims and that there has been no movement for extraction beyond sampling, which is allowed under the law.
There is also a motion by the government to move the case from Washington, D.C., to Salt Lake City. There has been no decision regarding that.