Tag Archives: Salazar

6/21/2011 Gallup Independent: Off Limits Interior protects 1 million Grand Canyon acres

6/21/2011 Gallup Independent: Off Limits Interior protects 1 million Grand Canyon acres By Kathy Helms Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said Monday that he will make an emergency withdrawal for six months of approximately 1 million acres of federal lands near the Grand Canyon to protect it from new uranium mining claims while the Bureau of Land Management completes its study on a 20-year mineral withdrawal. Salazar made the announcement at the Mather Point Amphitheater in Grand Canyon National Park where he was joined by BLM Director Bob Abbey, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, and U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt. An order will be published in the Federal Register within the next week. A final Environmental Impact Statement that evaluates a preferred alternative of a 20-year mineral withdrawal on those same lands is expected to be released this fall. Salazar directed BLM to identify the full 1 million acre uranium withdrawal as the preferred alternative. But even if selected, it will not stop uranium mining in northern Arizona.

“Uranium, like oil and gas, solar, wind, geothermal, and other sources, remains a vital component of a responsible and comprehensive energy strategy. We will continue to develop uranium in northern Arizona, Wyoming and other places across the country,” he said.

There are possibly a number of valid existing rights in the proposed withdrawal area, according to Salazar, and he expects continued development of those claims and the establishment of new mines over the next 20 years.

“In fact, cautious development with strong oversight could help us answer critical questions about water quality and environmental impacts of uranium mining in the area. This science, derived from experience, would help others decide what actions are necessary to protect the Grand Canyon,” Salazar said.

The lands are within portions of the Grand Canyon watershed next to the park and contain vast archaeological resources and sites of spiritual and cultural importance to about a dozen American Indian tribes, among them Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Havasupai, Hualapai, San Juan Southern Paiute, and White Mountain Apache. The Colorado River corridor also is the location of traditional collection areas for plants and minerals, as well as contemporary prayer and offering places, traditional cultural properties and sacred sites.

Uranium mining activities on lands adjacent to the park could result in environmental and watershed contamination, according to a report by the National Parks Conservation Association. Potentially harmful materials from past mining activities are still present in parts of the park.

“Our ancestors could not have known that one day the Grand Canyon would attract more than 4 million visitors a year. That hunting, fishing, tourism, and outdoor recreation would generate an estimated $3.5 billion in economic activity in this area. Or that millions of Americans living in cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles would rely on this river and this canyon for clean, healthy drinking water,” Salazar said.

“Like our ancestors, we do not know how future Americans will enjoy, experience, and benefit from this place. And that’s one of the many reasons why wisdom, caution, and science should guide our protection of the Grand Canyon. In this moment, we face a choice that could profoundly affect the Grand Canyon in ways we do not yet understand.”

Some of the lands near the Grand Canyon contain uranium resources that have helped meet America’s energy needs, he said. Over the last 20 years, eight uranium mines have operated in the area and one study has shown that an additional eight to 11 mines might be developed. “The question for us, though, is not whether to stop cautious and moderate uranium development, but whether to allow further expansion of uranium mining in the area,” Salazar said.

Monday’s announcement follows efforts by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., scientists, tribal and local government leaders, businesses and hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens to secure protections for the region and its waters.

“This is a great day for the Grand Canyon, its wildlife and everyone in the Southwest who relies on the Colorado River for drinking water,” said Sandy Bahr, the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter director.

The emergency withdrawal, like the temporary segregation imposed by Salazar in July 2009, would prohibit the location of new hard rock mining claims under the 1872 Mining Law. However ongoing or future mining exploration or extraction operations on valid preexisting claims could continue. The temporary segregation expires July 20.

Roger Clark, Air & Energy program director for Grand Canyon Trust, applauded Salazar’s announcement, Grijalva’s commitment to the long-term protection of Grand Canyon’s watersheds through legislation, and Havasupai elders for their lifelong opposition to uranium mining within their historic homeland.

“The Grand Canyon Trust is honored to join First Americans, congressman Grijalva, and Secretary Salazar in protecting our region’s water from contamination by uranium mining. The secretary said that water is the Grand Canyon’s and our arid region’s ‘lifeblood.’ We wholeheartedly agree,” Clark said.

At the time of the temporary segregation, 10,600 hard rock mining claims existed. Today, approximately 3,500 claims remain. The emergency withdrawal will help maintain the status quo until a final decision is made.

Information: http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/mining/timeout.html

6/20/2011 Center for Biological Diversity: 1 Million Acres of Grand Canyon Watershed Protected From Uranium Mining

Center for Biological Diversity June 20, 2011 For Immediate Release Contact: Randy Serraglio, (520) 784-1504 1 Million Acres of Grand Canyon Watershed Protected From Uranium Mining: GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK— Interior Secretary Ken Salazar extended interim protections from uranium mining today for Grand Canyon’s 1-million-acre watershed through the end of 2011; the secretary also announced his support for a 20-year mineral withdrawal across the same area. Both protections ban new claims and block new mining on existing, unproven claims. The announcement quells fears that a two-year mining prohibition issued by Salazar in July 2009 would expire, opening the door to new mining claims and resulting mine development. Public lands around Grand Canyon National Park have been ground zero for new uranium mining that threatens to industrialize iconic wildlands and permanently pollute aquifers feeding Grand Canyons springs and streams.

“The world would never forgive the permanent pollution of Grand Canyon’s precious aquifers and springs or the industrialization of its surrounding wildlands,” said Randy Serraglio of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The only sure way to prevent pollution of the Grand Canyon is to prevent uranium mining, and today’s action makes important progress toward that goal.”

Salazar today directed the Bureau of Land Management to designate the withdrawal of the full 1-million-acre watershed from new mining claims as its preferred alternative in its ongoing environmental analysis of the issue, scheduled to be released in the fall.

“This is good news for the Grand Canyon, but we are disappointed that Secretary Salazar continues to show such enthusiasm for the mining of existing claims,” said Serraglio. “We hope the ‘caution, wisdom and science’ cited by the secretary as being so important in managing this precious area will lead to strong decisions to protect it from further pollution by uranium mining.”

Uranium pollution already plagues the Grand Canyon region. Proposals for new mining have prompted protests, litigation and proposed legislation. Scientists, tribal and local governments, and businesses have voiced opposition to new mining operations. Dozens of new mines threaten to industrialize stunning and often sacred wildlands, destroy wildlife habitat and permanently pollute or deplete aquifers feeding Grand Canyon’s biologically rich springs.

The segregation and withdrawal would prohibit new mining claims and mining on claims without “valid existing rights” to mine. Several claims within the withdrawal area that predate the 2009 segregation order will be grandfathered in; those are still vulnerable to mining.

In 2009 the Bureau of Land Management allowed mining to resume at the Arizona 1 mine within the withdrawal area and immediately north of Grand Canyon without first updating 1980s-era environmental reviews. The Havasupai Tribe, the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, the Center, Sierra Club and Grand Canyon Trust challenged that mine’s reopening in federal court — one of four lawsuits brought by the Center relating to uranium mining in the region since 2008. That suit is ongoing.

“Grand Canyon and the surrounding areas are some of the most recognized and prized landscapes in the United States. Allowing further uranium mining would cause untold damage and leave future generations asking why we didn’t do more to stop it,” Serraglio said. “That’s why we’ll keep defending the Grand Canyon and working to reform the antiquated 1872 mining law so that federal agencies finally have clear authority to deny mining proposals that threaten irretrievable damage to our public lands.”