Interior Secretary Salazar, Senators John McCain and Mark Udall to Visit Grand Canyon Today Following Interior's July Uranium Moratorium

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Taylor McKinnon, (928) 310-6713

Interior Secretary Salazar, Senators John McCain and Mark Udall to Visit Grand Canyon Today Following Interior's July Uranium Moratorium

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. - One month after the Department of the Interior enacted a two-year restriction on new
uranium mining claims and exploratory drilling across 1 million acres of
public land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park, Interior Secretary Ken
Salazar and senators John McCain and Mark Udall will today visit the park
and hold a press conference in the afternoon. The topic of the press
conference has not been disclosed.

The
Interior Department’s July 20 move prohibited new uranium claims and
exploration of existing claims without valid existing mining rights across
1 million acres of public lands surrounding Grand
Canyon. The prohibition will last for two years while the Department
evaluates extending protections for up to an additional 20 years.

Spikes
in uranium prices have caused thousands of new uranium claims, dozens of
proposed exploration drilling projects, and proposals to reopen old uranium
mines adjacent to Grand Canyon. Renewed
uranium development threatens to degrade wildlife habitat and industrialize
now-wild and iconic landscapes bordering the park; it also threatens to
contaminate aquifers that discharge into Grand
Canyon National Park
and the Colorado River. The Park Service warns against drinking from several
creeks in the Canyon exhibiting elevated uranium levels in the wake of past
uranium mining.

Proposed
uranium development has provoked a rash of litigation, public protests and statements of concern and opposition from
scientists, city officials, county officials, former Governor Janet
Napolitano, the Navajo, Kaibab Piute, Hopi and Havasupai tribes, the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the Southern Nevada
Water Authority. Statewide polling conducted by Public Opinion Strategies
shows overwhelming public support for withdrawing from mineral entry the
lands near Grand Canyon; Arizonans support protecting the Grand
Canyon area from uranium mining by a two-to-one margin.

Congressman
Raúl Grijalva has introduced H.R.644,
the Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act of 2009
, to
permanently protect the same 1 million acres around Grand
Canyon from new uranium claims and exploratory drilling.
Despite overwhelming support for enacting uranium protections among his
constituents, Senator McCain has to date opposed that legislation and other
efforts to protect Grand Canyon watersheds
from uranium mining.

“The
Grand Canyon deserves better than an
adjacent radioactive industrial zone,” said Taylor McKinnon, public
lands campaigns director with the Center for Biological Diversity.
“It’s time for Senator McCain to join his constituents and work
to protect Grand Canyon for future
generations.” McKinnon will be available for press interviews at
today’s event, which is scheduled as follows:

Who: 

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
and senators John McCain and Mark Udall

 

 

What:

Press Availability at Grand Canyon National Park

 

 

When: 

4:30 p.m.. PDT, Friday, August
21, 2009

 

 

Where:

South Rim, near Hopi House, Grand Canyon National Park

###

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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