Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Blocked - Backpacker

Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Blocked

Interior Secretary Salazar stops mining claims on 1 million acres of land near Grand Canyon National Park

It seems pretty logical that mining for radioactive uranium near the Grand Canyon might be a bad call. That didn't stop companies from filing for 1,100 mining claims less than five miles from the park, and Bush-era officials chose to look the other way.

But there's a new sheriff in town, and he wears a bolo tie: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will halt any mining claims so the area can undergo a two-year study to determine whether mining should be banned near the canyon permanently. The announcement comes just before congressional hearings tomorrow on a bill to protect 1 million acres north and south of the Grand Canyon.

Unfortunately, Salazar's declaration can't halt mining claims that have already been accepted—the bulletproof Mining Act of 1872 keeps the government from stopping mining unless they want to purchase the claims. But prospectors can't launch any new mining operations near the Grand Canyon, and that's a start.

"Are we prepared to allow the landscape to be torn up adjacent to the park, to threaten the hydrological and the natural resources of that park?" former Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Rob Arnberger said. "My answer to that is no. Don't open it up to exploration."

Should we allow uranium mining near the Grand Canyon? Share your comments—radioactive or not—in the comments below.

—Ted Alvarez

Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Halted (Huffington Post)

 Image Credit: L. Brumm Photography