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Utah Court Nixes Claims Over Evaporation Ponds

(CN) - The Utah Supreme Court said it lacked jurisdiction to consider environmental groups' challenge to the lease and development of evaporation ponds at the north end of the Great Salt Lake.

The petitioners, including the Friends of the Great Salt Lake, the Audubon Society of Utah and the Utah Sierra Club, were instructed to bring their claims in federal court.

The groups filed suit in 2007 over Great Salt Lake Minerals' plans to lease 23,000 acres of lake bed in Box Elder County, expanding the company's already leased areas.

The groups seek to block further development of the evaporation ponds and claim that the Utah Division of Natural Resources failed to perform a proper environmental impact analysis.

The state high court said it lacks jurisdiction, because the petitioners haven't exhausted all their avenues of appeal.

"At this time, [the petitioners] have a remedy at the district court," Chief Justice Christine Durham wrote. "Friends have not exhausted their appeals and do not have grounds to bring a petition for extraordinary relief."

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