Congress Adds Grand Canyon Uranium Ban To Defense Spending Package

Jul 22, 2020

A federal bill that would permanently ban new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon has been absorbed into an annual military funding package. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The Canyon Mine near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon has yet to produce uranium ore.
Credit Ryan Heinsius / KNAU

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday voted to add the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act as an amendment to the larger National Defense Authorization Act. Four Republicans joined every House Democrat in approving it. The GOP-controlled U.S. Senate will still have to approve the defense bill.

The Grand Canyon measure would permanently prohibit new uranium mining claims on more than a million acres adjacent to the national park. Tribes including the Havasupai and Navajo along with environmental groups, say uranium extraction poses a grave threat to area water resources and the canyon’s ecosystem.

Some officials in Mohave County and Congress, however, oppose the ban and say uranium mining would boost local economies.

The uranium industry has been at historic lows in recent years. One existing mine near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon has yet to produce ore as its owner waits for prices to rise.