Washington, D.C. – After a screening of a new film to be shown to visitors of the Grand Canyon, Interior Secretary Salazar today announced that his department will withdraw one million acres north and south of Grand Canyon National Park from new uranium mining claims for the next twenty years.
Uranium mining claims in the region have been on the rise, and Secretary Salazar decided in 2009 to implement a two-year moratorium to take stock of the impact of future mining activity. After broad scientific review and significant public support, the Secretary made a critical decision to strengthen protections for once of North America’s most iconic landscapes.
“Today, with this announcement, Secretary Salazar and President Obama have listened to the American people – who submitted over 300,000 comments in favor of protecting the Grand Canyon – and made sure that Teddy Roosevelt’s vision for the Grand Canyon remains intact,” said Grijalva.
Despite overwhelming public support for this important conservation initiative, some members of the Arizona Congressional delegation are actively working to block Secretary Salazar’s authority to implement this historic, science based decision. On October 12, 2011, Reps. Franks, Flake, Gosar, Quayle and Schweikert introduced H.R. 3155, the Northern Arizona Mining Continuity Act. If passed within 60 days of today’s decision, the bill would bar the Department of the Interior from withdrawing the one million acres surrounding the Grand Canyon from mining consideration for the next 20 years.
“As elected leaders of our state we should be standing shoulder to shoulder to protect the Grand Canyon, instead of shilling for outside interests and their short-term profits,” Grijalva said. “The Grand Canyon is not a payday loan operation – it is a symbol of our nation.”
“It is not in our national security interest to jeopardize this critical ecosystem or put at risk a water supply relied on by 25 million Americans,” added Grijalva. “Cities all across the Southwest, including Las Vegas, Phoenix and my hometown of Tucson, rely on the Colorado River watershed for their water supply. What would it mean for our national security if 25 million people did not have access to clean water? Again, that is not a risk I am willing to take. I applaud this historic decision and look forward to continuing the conservation legacy that we have inherited to make sure that the Grand Canyon remainsunchanged.”
Congressman Grijalva introduced H.R. 855, the Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act, on March 1, 2011. If passed, this bill would withdraw the land in question from all future mining claims in perpetuity. The bill was first introduced by the Congressman in 2008.
For more information about the decision, please contact Adam Fetcher of the Department of the Interior at (202) 208-6416.
The Department’s press release can be found at http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Secretary-Salazar-Announces-Decision-to-Withdraw-Public-Lands-near-Grand-Canyon-from-New-Mining-Claims.cfm