U.S. Energy Department Recommends Mining Access On Fed Lands

By Laurel Morales
Published: Friday, April 24, 2020 - 1:58pm
Updated: Friday, April 24, 2020 - 2:25pm

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Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

Grand Canyon Trust
Map of active mining claims in 2018

The U.S. Energy Department released a report Thursday with recommendations that would make it easier for companies to mine for uranium near Grand Canyon National Park and Bears Ears National Monument. 

President Trump created the Nuclear Fuel Working Group last July to find ways to “restore America’s competitive nuclear advantage,” a market dominated by China and Russia. 

The group recommended allowing uranium mining companies more access to federal lands and streamlining environmental regulations and Native American consultations

But the Grand Canyon Trust’s Amber Reimondo said the risks are too great on land surrounding the Grand Canyon National Park.

“The act of mining introduces oxygen and water to previously stable deposits of uranium,” Reimondo said. “It destabilizes that uranium deposit and allows radioactive elements and arsenic to be carried into the human environment.”

She said the move threatened the temporary ban on mining land surrounding the national park where there are more than 800 active claims. The House passed legislation last year that would make that ban permanent. 

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema introduced a companion bill in December.

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