House Republicans released a spending bill today that would prohibit the Interior Department from withdrawing 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon from mining. This anti-environmental rider is just one in a long list of amendments that are unrelated to spending, yet have been put into appropriations legislation to thwart attempts by the Obama Administration to protect our air, land and water.
This action comes in response to last month’s announcement from the Department of Interior that withdrew the lands around the Canyon from mineral entry for another 6 months while the environmental impact statement is finalized. Secretary Salazar spoke at the Grand Canyon, and indicated the administration’s preferred alternative is to withdraw the full 1 million acres from mining.
The Grand Canyon is currently threatened by over 1000 uranium mining claims near its borders. Uranium mining can harm soil, ground and surface water. It also leaves radioactive wastes that last for years — wastes that can and have made people sick. Despite the potential for serious environmental impacts and the 300,000 comments in favor of withdrawal, House Republicans have chosen the profits of an industry over one of our greatest national treasures. This choice is shortsighted and could have serious consequences on waters that flow in and around Grand Canyon National Park and the native communities that live in and around the Canyon.
Protecting the Grand Canyon not only protects its sacred lands and vital waters, it also makes sense economically. The Canyon provides thousands of jobs for the region that will be there as long as the natural beauty of the area is not polluted.
The Interior and Environment Appropriations subcommittee will consider this legislation tomorrow. Speak out to protect the Grand Canyon by calling your Representative and urging them to vote against any spending bills that contain provisions that harm the air we breathe and the water we drink.