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Suit targets drilling near canyon

March 13, 2008|From the Associated Press

PHOENIX — A trio of environmental groups sued the U.S. Forest Service on Wednesday for approving a series of uranium exploration sites within miles of Grand Canyon National Park.

The Forest Service gave British mining company VANE Minerals Group permission to drill at as many as 39 locations in Kaibab National Forest in northern Arizona. The company is seeking commercial quantities of uranium, which has soared in price. Drilling could begin in December.

The suit claims the government violated several environmental and other laws when it approved the drilling without full environmental reviews. It was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and Grand Canyon Trust.

"We do believe we followed National Environmental Policy Act guidance, and in the case of VANE Minerals the proposal was to conduct exploratory activities only, not mining," Kaibab National Forest spokeswoman Jackie Denk said.

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