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For Immediate Release, October 26, 2011

Contact:    Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 310-6713
Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club, (602) 999-5790
Roger Clark, Grand Canyon Trust, (928) 774-7488

Plan Would Protect Grand Canyon From Uranium Mining for 20 Years

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz.— The Obama administration today released its plan to protect 1 million acres of public land around Grand Canyon National Park from new uranium mining and mining claims for 20 years.  

“The Grand Canyon is an international icon, a biodiversity hotspot and a huge economic engine for the Southwest,” said Taylor McKinnon, public-lands campaigns director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Protecting it from uranium mining pollution is the right thing to do.”

On July 21, 2009, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a two-year order banning new mining claims across 1 million acres of public lands around the world-famous national park. Today’s final environmental impact statement proposes a 20-year “mineral withdrawal” across the same 1 million-acre area, banning new claims and blocking new mining on existing, unproven claims. Today’s decision will protect Grand Canyon’s springs, creeks and imperiled species, like the humpback chub.

“This is a great day for Grand Canyon and all those who care about the park and the surround public lands, including the hundreds of thousands of individuals, hundreds of businesses and organizations, local governments, and Native American tribes, who all expressed support for this action. We are pleased to see the Obama administration take this important step in protecting the Grand Canyon’s watershed,”  said Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon chapter director.

Uranium pollution already plagues the Grand Canyon and surrounding region. Proposals for new mining have prompted protests, litigation and proposed legislation. Scientists, tribal and local governments and businesses have voiced opposition. Dozens of new mines threaten to industrialize iconic and regionally sacred wildlands, destroy wildlife habitat and permanently pollute or deplete aquifers feeding Grand Canyon’s biologically rich springs and creeks.

“The Grand Canyon Trust applauds Secretary Salazar's decision to protect the Grand Canyon from new uranium claims,” said Roger Clark, air and energy program director at Grand Canyon Trust. “We  deeply appreciate business interests, Havasupai and other tribal leaders, chambers of commerce, city and county officials, sporting groups, and citizens from around the world for their massive support for this landmark decision.”

A “record of decision” is expected in about 30 days; it will codify a final decision on the final environmental impact statement. The final environmental impact statement can be read here.

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