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Washington, D.C. March 30, 2020– Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today hailed House passage of the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act, which advanced on a 236-185 vote. The bill sets a permanent moratorium on new uranium mining claims on just over 1 million acres of federally protected public lands to the north and south of Grand Canyon National Park.
Its passage represents a legislative victory more than a decade in the making for Grijalva, who first introduced the Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act – a bill to protect the land in question – in 2008. The Natural Resources Committee passed the current version of the bill on July 17 of this year.
“We wouldn’t be here today without a truly historic level of dedication by people across the country, and I want to thank all the tribes, outdoor advocates, businesspeople, sportsmen and sportswomen, and everyday Americans who have poured their heart and soul into this fight,” Grijalva said today. “Protecting the Grand Canyon is more important than offering the mining industry more corporate welfare, and the alliance behind this bill will stand together until we preserve this international icon for our grandchildren once and for all. Some issues are powerful and popular enough to blast right through the usual Senate deadlock, and protecting the Grand Canyon is one of them.”
Today’s vote comes ahead of the United States Nuclear Fuel Working Group’s Nov. 14 deadline to provide recommendations to the president on boosting the U.S. nuclear industry. Industry groups are heavily pressuring the panel to recommend opening public lands to new uranium mining claims, which would inevitably include areas protected by Grijalva’s bill.
Grijalva published an op-ed in Tuesday’s USA Today – available online at http://bit.ly/2Nq4T3Y – urging public support for the bill. The Natural Resources Committee recently published a video on the widespread community demand for greater Grand Canyon protections.
Grijalva and other bill supporters are holding a press conference at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time today to discuss the impact of the bill’s passage and the threat posed by the Trump administration. The event will be livestreamed at http://facebook.com/nrdems.
Statements of Support for the Bill
“The National Parks Conservation Association commends Representative Raul Grijalva, the bill’s co-sponsors, and House leaders for passing this permanent protection for one of the nation’s most iconic landmarks. New uranium mining threatens pollution to the Grand Canyon’s fragile water sources, including the Havasupai Nation’s entire drinking supply and the mighty Colorado River. Today’s passage demonstrates that our national parks including Grand Canyon are as worth protecting today as they were 100 years ago. We strongly urge the Senate to follow suit and protect Grand Canyon National Park, for all of us, forever.” – Kevin Dahl, Arizona Senior Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association
“The Grand Canyon is Arizona’s greatest natural treasure. It is a sacred place, a site of world renowned beauty, and a destination for visitors around the world. The Canyon is not just a fundamental piece of Northern Arizona’s economy it’s part of our identity. I am deeply appreciative of the efforts of Congressman Grijalva and Congressman O’Halleran and the steps they and others have taken to protect Arizona’s very own natural wonder.” – Coral Evans, Mayor of Flagstaff, Ariz.
“Today is a good day for Grand Canyon, its waters, wildlife, and the people who live and work in and around this natural wonder. The Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act is key to preventing more toxic pollution that has already harmed public, Navajo, Havasupai, and Hopi lands – there are more than 500 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation alone, contaminating water and harming the health of Diné people. Now that the Congress has taken this important step to prevent more uranium mining in this region, we hope Senator Sinema will show the leadership needed in the Senate to protect Grand Canyon and introduce the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act.” – Sandy Bahr, Director, Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter
“A hundred years after the formation of Grand Canyon National Park, we’re living under an administration hell-bent on drilling, mining, extracting, and polluting everything it can touch. That’s why we’re grateful for Chairman Grijalva and his colleagues’ efforts to halt dangerous new mining projects near the Grand Canyon and clean up the contamination already poisoning families in the Southwest. This legislation would ensure that the lands and drinking water near the Grand Canyon stay safe from toxic uranium mining operations, which have already left their scars on the health and wellbeing of the region, especially Native American communities. Earthjustice urges both chambers of Congress to pass it and send it to the president’s desk without delay.” – Martin Hayden, Vice President of Policy and Legislation, Earthjustice.
“The land is here and we have to learn how to take care of it. We have to do our best to ensure that we’re in a symbiotic balance with the land, air, and what’s around us, including ourselves. Please support the eleven tribes of the Grand Canyon and the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act.” – Sarana Riggs, Grand Canyon Program Manager, Grand Canyon Trust; Navajo Nation tribal member
“Thirty years ago, when we first began fighting against the disastrous effects of uranium mining in our homelands, we were alone in this fight. Today, we are joined by members of the House of Representatives who have voted to pass Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva’s (D-Ariz.) Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act. This support sends a strong message that it is important to protect the Grand Canyon. Not only for the Havasupai People, but for all people, for all generations.” – Carletta Tilousi, Councilwoman, Havasupai Tribe
“The Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act must be passed into law because this region is not now, nor will it ever be the right place to mine uranium. While Americans are still holding the bag from the last time the government prioritized uranium mining, research has underscored the erratic nature of groundwater flow in this region, and government records have shown just how little the region holds of known recoverable domestic uranium. Uranium mining near the Grand Canyon amounts to little more than an unnecessary gamble of a sacred landscape, a worldwide wonder, and a primary driver of the Northern Arizona economy.” – Amber Reimondo, Energy Program Director, Grand Canyon Trust
“As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Grand Canyon deserves permanent protection. The Arizona National Scenic Trail was intentionally designed to connect deserts, mountains, canyons, forests, communities and people. Currently, the Arizona Trail passes through public lands being targeted for uranium mining, which poses a significant public safety risk along a pathway that has proven to be an economic engine for the state of Arizona and the rural communities relying on Arizona’s $22 billion outdoor recreation industry. The potential rewards of uranium extraction do not outweigh the risks to land, water, human health, and the legacy of the Grand Canyon region. We owe it to future generations to protect this magnificent and economically valuable resource from one of the most toxic substances on Earth.” – Matthew Nelson, Executive Director, Arizona Trail Association
“The risks from uranium mining to local communities and healthy waterways are real. We see the past damage in people and on the land. The Grand Canyon is an icon of Arizona and a treasure. Today’s action by the U.S. House of Representatives passing the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act is a big step towards protecting the region and its people from further harm. We look for leadership in the Senate and for this commonsense measure to become law.” – Mike Quigley, Arizona State Director, The Wilderness Society
“This bill is a wonderful gift to future generations. Years from now people will look back and wonder why anyone could’ve opposed it. The Grand Canyon region is under new threats from the Trump administration despite the uranium industry’s toxic legacy. This bill will ensure that the life-giving waters of the planet’s most spectacular canyon are permanently protected from uranium mining’s devastation. We applaud Congressman Grijalva and all members of Congress who are standing up for the Grand Canyon region, its people and its wildlife.” – Randi Spivak, Public Lands Program Director, Center for Biological Diversity
“A vast wilderness, national treasure and world icon, Grand Canyon’s living landscapes and intricately connected hydrological systems will sustain us if we work together to permanently ban new uranium mining and keep them whole for all time.” – Kelly Burke, Executive Director, Wild Arizona