TUCSON, AZ – Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) released the following statement after the U.S. District Court in Arizona upheld the U.S. Department of Interior’s 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims across one million acres of public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon.
“Uranium mining poses unacceptable risks to the Grand Canyon, the waters running through it and the wildlife that make it their home,” said Rep. Grijalva. “Yesterday, the U.S. District Court ensured that the roughly five million people who visit the Canyon every year will continue to enjoy its natural beauty, and the 30 million people who rely on the Colorado River for drinking water won’t have to worry about toxins coming from the kitchen sink.”
Rep. Grijalva has fought throughout his time in Congress to safeguard the Grand Canyon from uranium mining interests. Responding to a dramatic increase in mining claims, Grijalva introduced the Grand Canyon Watershed Protection Act in 2008 to permanently withdrawal this land from consideration for uranium mining claims. He has subsequently reintroduced it in each new session of Congress since then. His efforts also include holding a House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands field hearing on the implications of uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, and numerous letters to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Grijalva’s leadership led to Secretary Salazar’s 2009 decision to establish a temporary moratorium on new mining while the Department studied the impact of increased uranium mining. That study led to the 2012 decision to halt new mining claims for the next 20 years.
“This is a tremendous victory for the community activists, Native American Tribes, environmental groups, scientists and public-at-large who helped oppose mining industry efforts,” Grijalva continued. “I’m proud to stand side-by-side with the dedicated men and women who fought so hard for these protections, and will do all I can to continue safeguarding the land we live on and the water we drink from the threats that mining poses.”