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March 28th, 2008
Grijalva Hearing Had Overwhelming Support Against Uranium Mine Proposal

Tucson, AZ— A hearing on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon had overwhelming support against the mining proposal near one of our Nation’s most well-known icons.

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands of the House Natural Resources Committee held the hearing today in Flagstaff, AZ.

There were over 200 people in attendance.

Hearing witnesses provided testimony on the Forest Service’s proposal to allow uranium mining. Witnesses included local elected officials, Tribal chairpersons, Grand Canyon area business and environmental representatives and uranium experts.

Recently, information surfaced regarding exploratory drilling for uranium within a few miles of the Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim, a popular tourist attraction and protected area.  The drilling is taking place on the Kaibab National Forest under what are known as categorical exclusions from the National Environmental Policy Act with very little environmental review and without public comment or involvement.

Grijalva’s legislation, the Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act of 2008 (H.R. 5583), will withdraw approximately one million acres near the Grand Canyon from mineral exploration under the 1872 Mining Act.

“Today’s hearing showed the concerns that many of us have about mining, especially near an icon like the Grand Canyon,” Grijalva said. “The support against uranium drilling points to the lack of oversight of the 1872 mining law.  This law was passed by Congress at a time when the country was expanding and the government wanted to lure settlers West under the doctrine of Manifest Destiny.  The law still allows this activity on our public lands and as a result, the clean up of old uranium mine sites in this region has not been adequately dealt with. It is Congress’s responsibility to reform this law that is seriously past its prime.”

The bill would withdraw from mining 628,886 acres in the Kanab Creek area and 112,655 in House Rock Valley managed by Bureau of Land Management, as well as 327,367 acres in the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest south of the Canyon.

The hearing was a joint effort of Grijalva’s subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.  Grijalva was joined by several members of Congress, including Reps. Ed Pastor (D-AZ) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA).

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