Arizona sporting groups are targeting Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in a publicity campaign to head off a possible rollback of an Obama-era ban on new mining claims around the Grand Canyon.
On Monday, the Arizona Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited unveiled two Phoenix billboards that call on Zinke to save Grand Canyon from uranium mining, citing the industry’s hazards for water and wildlife.
The Trump administration has signaled that it may revisit the Interior Department’s 2012 moratorium on new mining claims, known as a mineral withdrawal, that protects over 1 million acres of public lands for 20 years. (Existing mining claims were not affected.) Ending the moratorium “just doesn’t pass the common-sense test,” said Scott Garlid, the conservation director for the AWF.
“You look at the benefits of mining for uranium up in that area, and they’re relatively small,” he said. “There’s going to be a few additional jobs, but not very many, and certainly not as many as the outdoor and recreation industries … We’re not making America great again by doing uranium mining around the Grand Canyon.”
Because much of the hydrology of the Grand Canyon region is unknown, Garlid argued that it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where a uranium mining incident could contaminate water sources for the nearby Havasupai Tribe and other communities along the Grand Canyon watershed.
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