Biden Designates New National Monument to Protect Land Near Grand Canyon – by Talal Ansari (Wall Street Journal – August 8, 2023)

The mining industry and local Republican officials have opposed the move

President Biden designated a new national monument that would protect lands near the Grand Canyon, a move that has been opposed by the mining industry. The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni—Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument in northern Arizona covers more than 900,000 acres of public land. Biden, who is in Arizona as part of a three-state tour, designated the monument on Tuesday in an announcement near the Grand Canyon.

Biden has designated five national monuments, including the Grand Canyon one, as part of his administration’s conservation efforts. Several tribes have long sought permanent protection of their ancestral homelands in the Grand Canyon region, as have environmentalists. The mining industry has opposed curtailing access to uranium deposits in the area, arguing it will undermine the effort to produce more energy in the U.S. and increase dependence on Russia for the critical nuclear-power fuel.

In 2012, the Obama administration imposed a 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims around the Grand Canyon. Those protections will become permanent in the newly protected areas. Existing mining claims won’t be affected, a senior administration official said.

“These special places are not a pass-through on the way to the Grand Canyon. They’re sacred and significant in their own right. They should not be open to new mining claims and developed beyond recognition,” U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said Monday.

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