FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A group of Republican lawmakers from Arizona and Utah announced federal legislation Wednesday that would open up 1 million acres near Grand Canyon to new uranium mining claims.
The Northern Arizona Mining Continuity Act would end the Dept. of Interior's temporary ban on new mining claims that expires in December. The lawmakers say Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's intention to extend the ban for 20 years has nothing to do with protecting the environment, but everything to do with killing jobs in the uranium mining industry.
Utah Senator Mike Lee spoke at a press conference.
“We’re talking about potentially thousands of jobs on both sides of the Utah-Arizona border that could be in place for several decades three or four decades at a time when our country is in need of job creation,” Lee said.
The interior department says any claims about job losses are false. The ban doesn't affect mining companies that can prove valid existing rights on a claim.
Previous efforts by lawmakers to prohibit or allow mining on the same acreage were not approved.