Arizona Lawmakers Sue Feds Over Grand Canyon Monument

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Arizona Lawmakers Sue Feds Over Grand Canyon Monument

In a bold legal move, top Republicans from the Arizona Legislature, joined by State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, have fired the first shots in a legal battle challenging President Biden’s protective measures over nearly a million acres in northern Arizona. Their legal arsenal is aimed at dismantling what they call an “unlawful land grab” – the creation of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni-Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument.

Arizona Lawmakers Sue Feds Over Grand Canyon Monument : bUnveiling the Lawsuit

The lawsuit, spearheaded by Senate President Warren Petersen, House Speaker Ben Toma, and Treasurer Kimberly Yee, alleges a violation of the Antiquities Act of 1906 by President Biden in declaring the national monument last August. Covering an expansive 918,000 acres – equivalent to the size of Rhode Island – the monument has become a battleground for Republicans who argue that Biden’s move goes beyond preserving artifacts.

Arizona Lawmakers Sue Feds Over Grand Canyon Monument : Dissecting the Allegations

Petersen, in a scathing statement, labeled Biden’s maneuver as “incredibly disingenuous,” contending that it is not about safeguarding historical artifacts but a ploy to impede mining, ranching, and other vital local uses of federal lands crucial for energy independence and the state’s economy.

Unveiling the Motivation

The lawsuit claims that the monument, in its present form, overly restricts an extensive area. It alleges that the proclamation aims to address historical dispossession of Native American tribes and curb mining activities in an area rich in uranium reserves. Despite a decade-old temporary mining block by the Interior Department, Congress has consistently refrained from endorsing permanent land use changes, according to the suit.

Congressional Disregard

“The proclamation essentially prohibits further use and development of the land, despite the fact those lands are available for the mining of important natural resources, such as uranium, that financially benefit Arizona’s state and local governments and schools,” the suit claims. It accuses the Biden administration of disregarding numerous congressional laws related to federal land use and conservation.

Arizona Lawmakers Sue Feds Over Grand Canyon Monument : Economic Fallout

Treasurer Yee emphasizes that the monument isolates trust lands granted to the state upon statehood, affecting the economy and livelihoods of citizens. Yee urges the federal government to compensate the permanent school fund for the economic isolation caused by Biden’s pen stroke.

Joining Forces

Joining the legal fray are Mohave County, along with the communities of Colorado City and Fredonia. The lawsuit coincides with a separate challenge by a sixth-generation Arizona rancher, both accusing the Biden administration of Antiquities Act abuse.

Federal Silence

Representatives for the federal government declined to comment on the legal challenges as of Tuesday.