Grand Canyon Monument Would Make Uranium Ban Permanent
October 13, 2015
Bruce Gordon - Ecoflight
The Canyon Mine (foreground) is six miles south of Grand Canyon National Park.

Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva introduced legislation Monday that would preserve and restore sacred lands, the watershed and the environment north and south of Grand Canyon National Park. The Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act would set aside 1.7 million acres of public land. 

The area surrounding the Grand Canyon is rich in uranium. In 2012, the Obama administration put a 20-year moratorium on new uranium mining claims. If passed, the law would make that ban permanent.

Eleven tribes connected to the Grand Canyon support the bill. And if passed, they would help manage the monument. 

Havasupai council member Carletta Tilousi told a group of reporters her tribe, that lives at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, is at the front lines of groundwater contamination.

“We the Havasupai would like to keep our canyon home clean of no uranium mining,” Tilousi said. “We’d like to see our water remain clean of no uranium mining. We’d like to see our children live in a clean environment, go to our sacred mountains in peace and pray and do our offerings.”

This announcement comes at a time when the National Park Service says Energy Fuels has plans to reopen an old mine and extract uranium on Red Butte, what is considered a sacred site by the Havasupai Tribe.

Supporters of the legislation say it will be difficult to get the act through Congress.