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07/22/2009

Department of the Interior Puts Hold on Grand Canyon Uranium Mines

This past Monday, Secretary Salazar announced that the Department of the Interior (DOI) is barring the filing of new uranium mining claims on 1 million acres surrounding the Grand Canyon National Park.  The hold on claims will last for two years while the Department studies the environmental effects that reviving uranium mining could have.  However, depending on the outcome of those studies, DOI has the power to extend that hold up to 20 years.

Grand canyon

Courtesy of the National Park Service

During the past several years, high uranium prices have created a frenzied rush to file claims under the 1872 hardrock mining law.  There are more than 10,000 claims in the area and more than 2,000 of those are within 10 miles of the Grand Canyon.  If these claims turn into active mines the Colorado River, underground aquifers, and one of our nation's most treasured icons will be seriously threatened.

Chairman of the Parks Subcommitte Grijalva (D-Ariz.) has introduced legislation that would offer lasting protections for the region.  H.R. 644, the Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act of 2009, would permanently bar new mining claims in much of the same 1 million acres that Secretary Salazar intends to study.  The Sierra Club is working closely with Congress and the Havasupai Tribe to ensure that this protection is ensured.

Tell Secretary Salazar thank you for his actions.

See our press release here.

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