Tribal and environmental groups are calling on Arizona Republican Senator Martha McSally to back a bill permanently banning uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.
The National Congress of American Indians this week called on McSally to co-sponsor the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act. It would make permanent a 2012 federal moratorium on new uranium mining claims on more than a million acres adjacent to the park.
The Havasupai, Navajo, Hopi and others say possible uranium contamination would threaten the federal water rights of tribal nations in and near the Grand Canyon. They, and several conservation groups, also worry about the destruction of sacred sites and impacts to wildlife and public health.
The mining industry and local uranium supporters say modern extraction techniques are safe and won’t harm the environment.
The U.S. House passed the bill last year and it was introduced in the Senate in December by Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. McSally hasn’t publicly commented on the legislation and her office did not respond to a request for comment.