Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton reversed an opinion by former Clinton administration Secretary Bruce Babbitt, clearing the way for Glamis Gold Ltd. to start the permitting process for its Imperial Gold Mine project.
Glamis' controversial project pits the need for economic development in the Valley against the responsibility of the U.S. government to protect sacred Native American lands.
Glamis proposes to build its mine near Quechan Indian off-reservation sacred land known as Indian Pass. The Quechan use the land for spiritual practices and say the mine would have a negative impact on the area.
Babbitt's opinion, signed in January in the last days of the Clinton administration, stated the Secretary of the Interior has the discretion to deny a mining permit if there is "undue impairment" to the environment or cultural resources. That decision made way for Babbitt to deny the Glamis Imperial project.