The Trump administration may overturn a ban on mining uranium in the watershed of the Grand Canyon that former President Barack Obama implemented in 2012, The Hill reports.
The U.S. Forest Service included the potential action in a list of other policies that interfere with U.S. energy development.
The Obama administration ban covering more than a million acres was enacted in 2012 after Native American tribes in the area expressed concern that mining activities would pollute the Grand Canyon and Colorado River, according to The Hill.
“Uranium mining would have brought in nearly $29 billion to our local economy over a 42-year period,” Arizona’s Mohave County board of supervisors wrote in June to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose department controls a part of the land. “This ban took away much needed growth and jobs from our area.”
Environmental groups slammed the proposal as an example of the Trump administration catering to industries that are known for damaging the environment.
Nuclear energy from reactors, which run on uranium, is the largest source of electricity that does not emit carbon into the atmosphere, however, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.
“This appalling recommendation threatens to destroy one of the world’s most breathtakingly beautiful regions to give free handouts to the mining industry,” Center for Biological Diversity attorney Allison Melton said in statement. “The Trump administration’s willingness to sacrifice our natural treasures to polluters knows no bounds.”
Melton hinted at legal action, should the Trump administration repeal the ban.
“This reckless, shortsighted proposal won’t be allowed to stand,” Melton said.
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