Uranium Resources, a uranium exploration, development and production company, announced today that the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit en banc held today that the Company’s Section 8 property in Churchrock, New Mexico is not Indian Country.
Don Ewigleben, President and CEO of Uranium Resources noted, “This ruling enables us to immediately seek to renew the underground injection control (UIC) permit that we had been granted by the State of New Mexico in 1989. This is the last permit required for us to advance our in situ recovery uranium mining project on our Churchrock property where we hold 13.7 million pounds of in place mineralized uranium material.”
The result of the ruling means the authority to issue a UIC permit to URI falls under the jurisdiction of the State of New Mexico, and not the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The jurisdictional dispute originated among the State of New Mexico, the USEPA and the Navajo Nation and was initially taken to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. In January 2000, the issue was remanded to the USEPA. In February 2007, the USEPA reached a decision that Section 8 is Indian country, and therefore under its jurisdiction to administer the UIC permit. URI appealed the decision to the Tenth Circuit Court in April 2009. By a 2-1 decision the court upheld the EPA’s ruling. In August 2009, URI’s petition for an en banc review was granted and oral arguments were held January 2010. The subject ruling that the Section 8 property is not Indian Country is the result of the en banc review.