Fourth attempt to overturn environmental protections for cherished area falls short in House committee
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal lawmakers continued their cat and mouse energy game this week by fiddling with a transportation bill to try and repeal President Obama’s ban on new uranium development across 1 million acres of public land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park.
The effort, led by three Arizona congressmen, failed, when the House Rules Committee ruled it out of order. The amendment was sponsored by Jeff Flake, Trent Franks and Paul Gosar, all Republicans. It would have overturned a recent decision by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar enacting a 20-year “mineral withdrawal” that bans new mining claims and development on existing claims lacking rights-to-mine across Grand Canyon’s million-acre watershed.
“With each new legislative attack, GOP congressmen make a better case for permanently — rather than administratively — protecting the public lands that form Grand Canyon’s watershed,” said Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaigns director with the Center for Biological Diversity.
In 2010 and again in 2011, Flake, Franks and Gosar sponsored legislation that would have prohibited the Interior Department from enacting the mining ban; in 2011 they attempted to add a rider to a budget bill — their third failed attempt prior to this most recent amendment.
Over the past few years, nearly 400,000 people from 90 countries wrote the Department of the Interior urging it to ban new uranium mining around the canyon after a uranium boom threatened to bring a new wave of destructive mining threatening recreation, tourism, wildlife habitat and waters in Grand Canyon National Park.
The mining ban has won wide support among American Indian tribes, regional businesses, elected officials, hunting and angling groups, scientists and conservationists.