PHOENIX — An alliance of Arizona groups have launched a new campaign to protect the Grand Canyon and its natural resources from the impacts of proposed uranium mining.
The Arizona Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and other sportsmen and wildlife groups unveiled the “Protect Your Canyon” campaign and have called on Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke to protect the Grand Canyon.
“There [are] some places too precious to mine,” Arizona Wildlife Federation President Brad Powell told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.
In 2012, the secretary of the Interior imposed a 20-year freeze on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, protecting the wildlife from mining impacts.
Now it is believed — with strong efforts in Congress and the Trump administration — that the moratorium may be lifted.
“We are just asking Secretary of Interior Zinke to leave that withdrawal in place. However, it’s our understanding that he’s currently considering removing it,” said Powell.
The Department of Interior recently listed uranium as a “critical mineral” and is working with the Department of Commerce to research ways to increase domestic uranium production. They are expected to propose actions later this year.
Powell said it’s important to know that “last time we had a large uranium development occur in the West, over $3 billion in cleanup costs had been left and over a billion dollars of that is going to be paid by Arizona taxpayers.”
The groups are using several methods to get their message out, including billboards, petitions, videos and a new website: www.protectyourcanyon.org.
“No one knows what’s going to happen after mining occurs and our concern is that the waters of those areas will be polluted and the downstream communities will be affected,” Powell said.