Uranium Mining Halted Near Grand Canyon
Photo by Ken Oettle
On April 4 a federal judge issued a restraining order against a mining company and the Kaibab National Forest, halting uranium exploration on public lands within a few miles of Grand Canyon National Park. "We're pleased that the judge recognized the importance of protecting the Canyon and the possible significant impacts this exploration could have," says Sandy Bahr, below, director of the Club's Grand Canyon Chapter.
In December, the Kaibab National Forest approved exploratory uranium drilling by VANE Minerals at up to 39 locations just south of the canyon. The Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Grand Canyon Trust took the Forest Service to court in early March for violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and failing to conduct a rigorous analysis of the cumulative impacts of drilling so close to a national treasure.
Meanwhile, the Club helped turn out some 200 citizens to a congressional field hearing in Flagstaff on March 28, above, challenging the drilling, which had been approved using a "categorical exclusion," the least rigorous public and environmental review available to the agency under NEPA. While the lawsuit was pending, the Forest Service and VANE began drilling at three site projects. That drilling is now on hold.
"The Forest Service should take a hard look at the impacts and the public should have an opportunity to review and comment on this mining exploration," says Bahr, who cites the work of volunteer Sharon Galbreath and organizers Stacey Hamburg, Rob Smith, and Robert Tohe as key to the Club's efforts.
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