Pew Applauds Obama Administration Plan to Limit Mining Near Grand Canyon

Jane Danowitz, U.S. public lands director for the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement in reaction to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's proposal to withdraw nearly 1 million acres of public land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park from new mining claims.

"We commend the Obama administration for making a clear commitment to give the Grand Canyon long-term protection from new uranium mining at its doorstep. For decades to come, Americans will benefit from today's far-sighted decision to safeguard this natural icon.

"Even with today's action, uranium mining is expected to expand around the Grand Canyon, underscoring the need for lawmakers to move swiftly to modernize the 1872 mining law. We encourage the administration to work with Congress now to reform this antiquated law so that the Grand Canyon and other national treasures will be protected."

Background

In response to a rash of new mining claims near Grand Canyon National Park, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a temporary halt in 2009 to new claim-staking on nearly 1 million acres of public land surrounding the park. Salazar's announcement today called for a 20-year moratorium under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) on all 1 million acres of U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land, a proposal to be finalized December 20, 2011. The executive branch has applied FLPMA to protect other places from new claim-staking, including Yellowstone National Park and Oregon's Coos Bay. Such action has been necessary because the mining of gold, uranium and other hardrock minerals is still governed by a law signed by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. The outdated law gives mining companies "free and open access" to the majority of public land in the West and the Congressional Budget Office has shown it allows at least $1 billion in valuable metals to be taken from public land without taxpayer compensation. The Obama administration and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have called for modernizing the law. The Environmental Protection Agency has identified the hardrock mining industry as the nation's top polluter due to the more than $2 billion in federal spending on mine cleanup over the past decade.

Download Center

  • Waste Management in 2021: Accelerate Your Success with Technology

    Join waste management experts on February 23rd for a live best practice session webinar. You’ll learn how to take your waste program to the next level with visual location, barcoding, and mobility. Register now.

  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Reserve your copy of the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get a detailed, fact-based comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • Your Guide to Environmental Metrics that Drive Performance

    Translating sustainability into action starts with implementing the right metrics to assess your environmental risk and performance. Learn how to design metrics that improve your decision-making process and drive enterprise performance.

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

  • Unpacking ESG: 6 Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask

    Environmental and Sustainability experts from Arcadis and Cority answer 6 of the most pressing questions EHS professionals have about getting started with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting.

  • Industry Safe