20-year ban planned on new Grand Canyon uranium mining
The Obama administration announced Monday that it intends to place a 20-year ban on mining 1 million acres of land bordering the Grand Canyon, an area where uranium mining claims have spiked 2,000% in the last seven years.Grand Canyon National Park is already 1.2 million acres forbidden to energy development. The the administration just locked away nearly that much by executive fiat. Twenty years is a long time, well beyond the life of the administration. What will happen when the US decides it needs that uranium to produce it's own energy instead of buying oil or uranium from unreliable sources abroad? Hopefully, a president with another magic wand will wave it and put that energy back into play,
The ban would strengthen a moratorium on new mining claims and activity, which the administration placed on Grand Canyon border lands two years ago in response to the jump in uranium stakes. Interior Department officials said the agency initially would extend the current moratorium another six months, until December, in order to complete the steps necessary to establish the 20-year ban. Mines currently in operation would not be affected.
Environmentalists, some lawmakers and water utilities serving metropolitan areas in the southwest, including Los Angeles, said the decision would protect the critical Colorado River watershed from possible contamination from uranium mining and would prevent the Grand Canyon panorama from being gradually industrialized.
"This a big important step because we know there are rich claims out here that that mining industry would have gone after quickly," said Roger Clark, air and energy program director for the Grand Canyon Trust, a Flagstaff, Ariz., environmental group. "Mining would have affected the watershed, disturbed critical wildlife habitat, industrialized the perimeter of the Grand Canyon. It's kind of like locating a meatpacking house next to the Vatican: it's an incompatible use of the land."
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