An influential coalition of Arizona and Utah state officials is asking the Trump administration to roll back Obama-era environmental protections that ban new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, reports Joanna Walters, arguing that the 20-year ban is unlawful and stifles economic opportunity.
“Congress reversed the Bureau of Land Management’s ‘Planning 2.0’ rule, an Obama-era initiative that gave the public greater input on how land should be used. At the same time, Zinke has ended the moratorium on federal coal leases while pledging to open up public lands to greater oil and gas extraction,” says Walters.
Supporters of the ban, however, argue that new mining would very likely increase the chance of uranium-contaminated water flowing into the canyon given that past mining activities have “left hundreds of polluted sites among Arizona’s Navajo population, leading to serious health consequences, including cancer and kidney failure,” notes Walters.
In a relatively short time, federal agencies under the Trump administration have managed roll back protections on America’s 640m acres of public land, particularly under the auspices of US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke.
As Walters correctly points out, “many fear the administration will favor the powerful mining lobby over concerns from the tourism industry and the Native Americans who live in the region, such as the Havasupai, whose reservation lies west of the canyon.”
Trump has also asked Zinke to review 27 national monument designations and to recommend which public parks might be reversed or reduced in size.