Uranium Recommendations Lay Groundwork for Destructive Mining Near the Grand Canyon

PHOENIX — The Arizona Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation urged the White House to resist recommendations that could fast-track uranium mining near the Grand Canyon — threatening the national park and nearby lands, public health and tribal communities, and outdoor recreation.  The organizations said now, during the COVID-19 crisis, is the wrong time to expose communities in Arizona and beyond to new public health threats.

“Uranium mining near the Grand Canyon has already exposed Native American communities, wildlife and others to unacceptable risks. Fast-tracking new mining will only compound the damage done to Arizonans and our priceless public lands,” said Brad Powell, president of the Arizona Wildlife Federation. “Instead of propping up the flagging uranium industry, the White House should invest in wildlife, outdoor recreation, and Native American communities — which are all central to our shared history, heritage and future.”

A recent poll found 77 percent of Arizonans oppose expanding uranium mining on lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon.

“Any suggestion to expand uranium mining near the Grand Canyon or our public lands should be radioactive,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation. “Risking the health of tribal communities — especially during a global pandemic — and jeopardizing one of the wonders of the world does not make any sense. The White House should reject these recommendations and embrace Chairman Grijalva and other lawmakers’ common-sense plans for permanent mineral withdrawal around the Grand Canyon. It is time to protect this treasure for generations to come.”

The Arizona Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Federation, and a broad coalition of tribal and conservation organizations support House and Senate legislation to withdraw a million acres from future mining of uranium and minerals around the Grand Canyon.  

Uranium mining around the Grand Canyon has been a controversial chapter in the region’s history, with uranium that once supported the Cold War leaving a toxic legacy of health issues for Native American tribes, clean-up costs in the billions of dollars for U.S. taxpayers, and multiple lawsuits on both sides. Uranium mines in Arizona and other states throughout the West have left Native American tribes to deal with a myriad of negative health effects, according to a recent study from the National Institutes of Health.

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