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For Immediate Release, June 20, 2008

Contact: Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 310-6713  

Center Applauds Emergency Uranium Protections for Grand Canyon

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.— Representative Raúl Grijalva submitted a resolution Thursday to the Natural Resources Committee pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act that would enact emergency protections from uranium development across 1 million acres of federal public lands surrounding Grand Canyon National Park.

“Grand Canyon’s watersheds simply aren’t the place for uranium development,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity. “This measure would afford immediate protections from an impending uranium boom on lands surrounding a crown jewel of our national park system.”

Spikes in uranium prices in recent years have resulted in thousands of new uranium claims, dozens of uranium exploration projects and efforts to open uranium mines in watersheds surrounding Grand Canyon. Scientists, tribal officials and current and past Grand Canyon National Park superintendents have raised concerns about the impacts of uranium development on Grand Canyon’s seeps, springs, and unique biological diversity.

In April, the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and Grand Canyon Trust won a preliminary injunction against the Kaibab National Forest for allowing the first of five exploration projects south of Grand Canyon to proceed under a categorical exclusion from detailed environmental review.

In March, Congressman Grijalva introduced the Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act , legislation that would permanently withdraw from mineral entry the same 1 million acres encompassed by the new resolution. Similar withdraws have been called for by scientists and elected officials, including Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.

If the resolution is passed by a committee vote scheduled next Wednesday, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act would require Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne to immediately withdraw subject lands from mineral entry for three years. The law allows emergency withdrawals when “extraordinary measures must be taken to preserve values that would otherwise be lost.”

“Congressman Grijalva’s bold leadership continues a long tradition of protecting the Grand Canyon that began a century ago this year with Teddy Roosevelt’s proclamation of Grand Canyon National Monument,” said McKinnon. “We applaud the congressman’s efforts.”

To view a copy of the resolution, click here.

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 180,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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