Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, today highlighted an amendment to the transportation bill under consideration by the House of Representatives to overturn Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s recent decision to protect the Grand Canyon area from uranium mining. The measure, sponsored by Reps. Trent Franks, Jeff Flake and Paul Gosar– all Arizona Republicans – would overturn the science-based protection decision supported by more than 300,000 public comments, allowing international mining conglomerations to pursue extraction near the edges of America’s most well known national park.
Since Secretary Salazar decided to review the increase in mining claims around the Grand Canyon and issued a temporary moratorium on new claims in 2009, Reps. Franks, Flake and Gosar have campaigned against his administrative authority. After a two-year review process and the issuance of a Environmental Impact Statement, Salazar issued Public Land Order 7773 withdrawing the approximately 1 million acres of federal land under review from new uranium mining claims for the next 20 years.
Rep. Flake last year introduced an amendment to the Interior and Environment appropriations bill that would have derailed the process before a decision was made. The bill was pulled and the amendment was never considered. Once Salazar indicated her was leaning toward the maximum allowable protection under existing law, Rep. Franks introduced the Northern Arizona Mining Continuity Act(formally titled H.R. 3155). Much like the amendment filed this week, this bill would block Public Land Order 7773.
It has not been brought to the floor for a vote by House Republican leadership. The Arizona representatives are now trying to attach it to an unrelated bill.
“The Grand Canyon is at the heart of soul of Arizona, and I just can’t understand how an Arizonan could be so determined to jeopardize something so central to our state,” Grijalva said. “Mining near the canyon puts our health, economy and future at stake.”
The Colorado River, which runs directly through the Canyon, supplies water to more than 25 million Americans.