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Congressional Republicans Push to End Grand Canyon Uranium Ban

Don Bills/USGS

A group of congressional Republicans is calling on President Trump to reverse a series of Obama-era conservation measures. Among them is a 20-year ban on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Members of the Congressional Western Caucus say the order banning new uranium claims on a million acres near the park has negatively affected area economies and the mining industry. They’re asking for a review of the 2012 order along with other mineral bans, or withdrawals, on 10 million acres in six western states.

"We had over 31 domestic withdrawals done with the last administration and almost every single one of them was political in nature. What this basically does is ties up the multi-use doctrine of public lands," says the caucus' chair, Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar.

Conservation groups, however, say uranium mining is a threat to the Grand Canyon’s watershed and environment as well as tribal communities.

"Uranium mining has a toxic legacy in the Southwest and across the western United States. It just is common sense not to assume that uranium mining is going to be safe in that region until we know much more than we know now," says Amber Reimondo, Energy Program Director with the Grand Canyon Trust.

The U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeals upheld the mining ban last year.

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