Hinterland Green

Monday, July 20, 2009

Obama Administration to Halt Uranium Mining on One Million Acres Near Grand Canyon


Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will announce that the department will temporarily bar the filing of new uranium mining claims on about one million acres near the Grand Canyon. The land is being "segregated" for two years so that the department can study whether it should be permanently withdrawn from mining activities, an official said.
The announcement comes ahead of Tuesday's congressional hearing on a bill to set aside more than 1 million acres of federal lands north and south of the canyon. The bill's sponsor, Democratic U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, and environmental groups had been looking to Salazar for temporary protections at the Grand Canyon while the legislation is pending.

The Interior Department under President George W. Bush was unresponsive to efforts to ban new uranium mining claims. The House Natural Resources Committee invoked a little-used rule to stop any new claims for up to three years, but Interior officials refused to recognize the action and continued to authorize additional mining claims. A coalition of environmental groups sued, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management later rescinded Congress' right to withdraw lands from mining and other activities in emergencies. Since then, environmentalists and Grijalva have been hanging their hopes on Salazar for temporary protections.

Any companion bill to Grijalva's in the Senate is unlikely to come from Arizona's two U.S. senators. Republicans John McCain and Jon Kyl told Grijalva in a letter last month that adequate protections already exist.Conservationists contend mining leaves the Grand Canyon vulnerable to environmental damage and that no new operations should be proposed when the old mining sites haven't been cleaned up.

There are as many as 10,000 existing mining claims on BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands near the Grand Canyon for all types of hard-rock exploration. Some 1,100 uranium mining claims are within five miles of the Grand Canyon National Park. Source: The Huffington Post
I applaud the Obama Administration for this latest move, but the ultimate goal should be a permanent withdrawal.
blog comments powered by Disqus