Ranking Member Grijalva: Tuesday Hearing Will Highlight Need for Continued Protection for the Grand Canyon

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva

Published December 11, 2017

WASHINGTON ­– Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said today that he will use Tuesday’s hearing on Republican and Trump administration demands for more mining of uranium and other minerals from public land to highlight the threat those plans pose to the Grand Canyon. Grijalva will highlight the need to maintain the existing Obama-era moratorium on new uranium mining claims on 1 million acres in the region.

In late September, Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) urged the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Interior Department to conduct an “expedited review” of recent mining moratoriums enacted by the Obama administration. A USFS report last month recommended lifting the moratorium without providing any justification beyond providing companies the ability to mine more uranium.

The hearing is being driven by the same mining interests that direct the Trump administration and Republican Party’s environmental policy. Trump’s illegal destruction last week of Bears Ears National Monument followed heavy White House lobbying by a uranium mining and milling company, and the National Mining Association’s testimony submitted for tomorrow’s hearing attacks the Grand Canyon moratorium.

In a Nov. 27 op-ed in the Arizona Republic, Grijalva pointed out that the moratorium is still necessary and has a strong legal foundation. The full piece is available at http://bit.ly/2kX8nR7.

“Never mind that more than 3,000 existing claims for uranium mining still exist inside the moratorium area,” Grijalva wrote.

The companies holding those claims could start operations any time. If there’s a jobs boom waiting to happen, what are they waiting for? They can’t blame red tape — they already own the mineral rights.

Rather than studying the price of uranium or the failures of the U.S. nuclear power market, Trump is repeating the industry’s paper-thin excuses about “bureaucrats.” Republicans in Washington are wrong to help this cause.

Tomorrow’s hearing, Grijalva said this afternoon, is part of advancing the uranium industry’s narrow financial interests at the expense of public health, Native American rights and environmental quality for millions of Americans who live along the Colorado River.

“We’re supposed to believe our national demand for uranium, of all things, is too important to let the Grand Canyon, tribal needs, public health or any other considerations get in the way,” Grijalva said today. “Industry talking points can’t hide the fact that prices are too low for domestic uranium production to make a profit. If Republicans are willing to sacrifice tribes’ and other Americans’ well-being to help an industry that’s sitting idle these days, they’ve given up on being taken seriously.”

The hearing will also focus on Republicans’ demand for weaker environmental enforcement in the name of producing other supposedly “critical” minerals, which the party has redefined to include such common products as sand and gravel.1

[1] See H.R. 1937 (114th), the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act (Amodei, R-NV), and the dissenting views in H. Rept. 114-253

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