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Fourth Legislative Attack on Grand Canyon Uranium Ban Fails
WASHINGTON - February 16 - The fourth legislative attempt to block the Obama administration’s ban on new uranium development across 1 million acres of public land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park died Tuesday night when the House rules committee ruled it out of order. The amendment was sponsored by the same three Republican congressmen who sponsored three previous failed anti-Grand Canyon legislative proposals — Jeff Flake, Trent Franks and Paul Gosar, all from Arizona.
The most recent amendment (#133), which would have modified the energy and infrastructure (H.R. 7) component of the transportation bill now before Congress, sought to overturn a January decision by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar enacting a 20-year “mineral withdrawal” that bans new mining claims and development on existing claims lacking rights-to-mine across Grand Canyon’s million-acre watershed.
“With each new legislative attack, GOP congressmen make a better case for permanently — rather than administratively — protecting the public lands that form Grand Canyon’s watershed,” said Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaigns director with the Center for Biological Diversity.
In 2010 and again in 2011, Flake, Franks and Gosar sponsored legislation that would have prohibited the Interior Department from enacting the mining ban; in 2011 they attempted to add a rider to a budget bill — their third failed attempt prior to this most recent amendment.
Over the past few years, nearly 400,000 people from 90 countries wrote the Department of the Interior urging it to ban new uranium mining around the canyon after a uranium boom threatened to bring a new wave of destructive mining threatening recreation, tourism, wildlife habitat and waters in Grand Canyon National Park.
The mining ban has won wide support among American Indian tribes, regional businesses, elected officials, hunting and angling groups, scientists and conservationists.