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For Immediate Release, October 9, 2008


Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity,
Marc Fink, Center for Biological Diversity,

Bush Administration Proposes Withdrawal of
Rule Protecting Grand Canyon From Uranium Mining

TUCSON, Ariz.– In response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust and Sierra Club, the Bureau of Land Management today proposed to eliminate a regulation that compels the Secretary of the Interior to withdraw a million acres of federal land near Grand Canyon National Park from uranium mining.

“The administration has chosen to change the law under a highly constrained public process rather than follow it and protect Grand Canyon,” said Taylor McKinnon, public lands program director for the Center for Biological Diversity, “This regulation has been on the books for decades — and changes to it can’t be applied retroactively.”

“Nothing — not laws, not Congress and not the Grand Canyon itself — will impede this administration’s accommodation of industry on our public lands,” McKinnon said.

Due to a recent and alarming increase in uranium claims near Grand Canyon National Park, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee of Natural Resources issued an emergency resolution on June 25th directing Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne to immediately withdraw more than 1 million acres from mining and development. The Subcommittee is granted this authority by Congress through the Federal Land Management and Policy Act and also through an Interior Department regulation (43 CFR 2310.5).

Kempthorne has illegally ignored the congressional emergency resolution, compelling the Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust, and Sierra Club to file suit on September 29th in order to force the required withdrawal of these lands. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management, an Interior Department agency, continues to authorize uranium exploratory drilling to continue on the federal lands that were required to be withdrawn.

In response to the Center’s lawsuit, instead of withdrawing these lands as required by the emergency regulation, the Bush administration has simply proposed to eliminate the regulation. The Administration’s proposal allows the public just 15 days to respond to the proposed rule, and it provides no environmental analysis of the potential effects of the proposed elimination of the regulation.

“Once again, the Bush administration is trying to internally eliminate important protections for our public lands with minimal public notice and no environmental analysis,” said Marc Fink, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

“If uranium development near the Grand Canyon is allowed to continue unabated, in violation of the emergency resolution, a likely result could be irretrievable contamination to seeps, springs ground water feeding Grand Canyon and the Colorado River,” McKinnon said. “Our national treasures deserve better.”

Background materials for download:

Conservationist’s lawsuit against Kempthorne
Map of Uranium Exploration Authorized in Violation of Emergency Withdrawal
Map of Uranium Claims, Seeps and Springs in Withdrawal Area
Letter by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano
Letter by Los Angeles Water District
Coconino County Grand Canyon Uranium Resolution
Testimony of Dr. Larry Stevens
Testimony of Dr. Abe Springer
Testimony of Robert Arnberger, former Grand Canyon National Park superintendent
Testimony of Roger Clark
Testimony of Chris Shuey
Supplement to Chris Shuey Testimony
Letter dated July 15th from Department of Interior
Letter dated July 16th by Congressman Rahall

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