Exclusive: Powerful regional officials to ask administration to end 20-year ban, saying it is unlawful and inhibits economic opportunity
A coalition of influential officials in Arizona and Utah are urging the Trump administration to consider rolling back Obama-era environmental protections that ban new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.
They argue the 20 year ban that came into effect in 2012 is unlawful and stifles economic opportunity in the mining industry. But supporters of the ban say new mining activity could increase the risk of uranium-contaminated water flowing into the canyon. Past mining in the region has left hundreds of polluted sites among Arizona’s Navajo population, leading to serious health consequences, including cancer and kidney failure.
The new appeal to the Trump administration appears in the draft of a letter expected to be sent on Monday to the US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, by the Mohave County board of supervisors, whose region borders the north side of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. Similar letters are being drawn up by other regional leaders in neighboring county governments in southern Utah, to be sent to Washington by the end of the week, according to officials.
The Mohave leaders also plan to dispatch a second letter on Monday asking the federal government to scrap national monument protections for lands of natural wonder “throughout Arizona”, claiming their designation is unconstitutional and prevents economic development of coal, oil and gas deposits. Utah leaders will follow with letters requesting the government shrink national monuments in southern Utah, such as Bears Ears and Grand Escalante, in order to open up a greater area for mineral exploitation, the Guardian has learned.