Grand Canyon Protected from Uranium Mining

     Great news for the Grand Canyon and for all who care about this great treasure:  the Obama administration intends to extend for the next 20 years a ban on mining on a million acres that border the Grand Canyon.

     A mining moratorium was put in place two years ago in response to a giant spike in the number of uranium mining claims placed on these Grand Canyon border lands.  The number of new uranium mining claims had jumped 2,000% in the last seven years as a result of higher prices for uranium.  

     Environmentalists hailed the decision.  “Mining would have affected the watershed, disturbed critical wildlife habitat, industrialized the perimeter of the Grand Canyon,” said Roger Clark, air and energy director for the Grand Canyon Trust.  “It’s kind of like locating a meat packing house next to the Vatican;  it’s an incompatible use of the land.” 

     In addition to the large coalition of environmental groups that worked for the 20 year extension of the about-to-expire two year moratorium on new mining claims, the water utilities of Los Angeles and other southwestern cities advocated for a continued ban.  They feared a contamination of the Colorado River watershed as a result of mining.  

     The burst of mining claims at the Grand Canyon are among thousands that have been filed along the borders of many national parks and wilderness areas.  In the past seven years, mining companies have filed claims to the rights to uranium, copper, gold, and other metals on land around Mount Rushmore, Joshua Tree National Park, and other refuges.  Critics explain that an outmoded 1872 law is driving the rapid increase in claims in sensitive places.  That law allows corporations to stake out rights to federal lands for mining without a competitive bid and to extract resources without paying penalties.

     I cheer the Obama administration’s decision to protect the Grand Canyon.  But I will rest easier after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issues his final decision on the moratorium this fall.  No doubt mining interests will be pressuring the administration to scale back its protection.–April Moore





Grand Canyon, preserved! With a uranium-mining ban about to expire in the area surrounding the famous U.S. landmark, Arizona resident Suzanne Sparling led the charge to extend it. She collected 50,000 public comments from members, and last Monday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced his support for another 20-year ban on the dangerous practice.

One Response to “Grand Canyon Protected from Uranium Mining”

  1. Joan Brundage Says:

    Hooray! This is very good news! Now I just wish that this would happen here in Arizona where a Japanese mining company is trying to mine next to a pristine national forest.

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