Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona is attempting to permanently block uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.
Grijalva is expected to introduce the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act to Congress Tuesday on the Grand Canyon National Park’s 100-year anniversary. The bill would make a moratorium on new uranium mines permanent on more than a million acres of land outside the park’s borders.
“Protecting the canyon is just, it’s overdue and it’s life-affirming,” Grijalva said while announcing the bill Saturday, The Arizona Republic reports. “The public wants us to do it, the economies of the region need it and the Grand Canyon’s future depends on it.”
The legislation would allow active mines in the area to continue operating. Mining companies would be blocked from building any new mines. Grijalva, now chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has pushed similar legislation before but without success.
Other Arizona lawmakers and state officials slammed Grijalva’s proposal, saying it would cost jobs and economic growth without adding the benefits Grijalva claims. (RELATED: AZ Officials Petition Trump To End Uranium Mining Ban)
“Once again, Rep. Grijalva is pursuing his misguided quest to permanently lockup more than a million acres in Northern Arizona, harm education, kill jobs, infringe on private property rights and undermine American energy security,” Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar said in a statement.
The Grand Canyon is already protected from the environmental impacts of uranium mining by regulations such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, as well as a million-acre buffer zone around the park created in 1984.
“The area far outside the Grand Canyon that Grijalva is trying to permanently ban constitutes the bulk of a 326,000,000 acre uranium reserve, the subsurface of which contains significant portions of what is by far the largest tract of uranium deposits in the entire nation, in addition to the highest grade of uranium deposit in the nation by a factor of six,” Gosar said.
The area in question is currently under a two-decade moratorium put in place by Obama Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in 2012. President Donald Trump attempted to lift the moratorium in 2017, but the 9th Circuit Court overturned the administration’s action and reinstated the ban.
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