WASHINGTON, DC -- The Arizona Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation applaud legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona today to permanently protect the Grand Canyon and surrounding area from uranium mining. The bill would prevent new uranium mining on a million acres around the national park, making permanent a temporary mineral withdrawal that was enacted seven years ago.
“The Grand Canyon is one of the great wonders of the natural world and has abundant wildlife and recreation opportunities. Providing permanent protection for this magnificent area is long overdue,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation. “For too long the tribal people and local communities near the park have been exposed to the toxic effects of uranium mining. It’s time to right that historical wrong and prevent any more damage.”
“It’s just common sense to protect the lands around it from the dangers of uranium mining so that future generations will be able to continue to enjoy the area,” said Scott Garlid, conservation director for the Arizona Wildlife Federation. “This bill safeguards wildlife, recreation opportunities as well as the water source that is absolutely vital to the ongoing existence of the Havasupai tribe and for the 40 million users downstream.”
Uranium mining during the Cold War left a toxic legacy in the West of health issues for Native American tribes and a clean-up bill that cost American taxpayers billions of dollars. In 2012, the Obama administration effectively banned new mining in the area by issuing a 20-year withdrawal of minerals near the Grand Canyon in order to study the effects on the environment and public health. This bill makes permanent that administrative withdrawal. A companion bill sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona) passed the House of Representatives this fall.
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