The chairman of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors called on the federal government Tuesday
He challenged the administration’s claim that uranium mining in the region would damage tourism, noting that mining was going on from 1981 to 1990 when traffic to the Grand Canyon jumped from 2 million to 4 million visitors.
Claims that mining “will harm the Grand Canyon ecosystem thereby ruining the region’s tourism–based economy is pure fear mongering and totally ignores uranium mining’s track record in the area,” Johnson said.
He said local governments in Arizona and Utah plan legal action in coming weeks to challenge the ban, and said later that they hope to get the state of Arizona to file suit.
Rep. Paul Gosar, R–Flagstaff, called Johnson’s testimony “exactly right” and said the red tape of federal agencies was blocking economic productivity.
“The environmentally responsible development of vast energy and mineral resources in the Arizona Strip would expand our domestic energy supply, create new, high–paying jobs and lessen our dependence on foreign energy and minerals and generate revenue for federal and state treasuries,” Gosar said at the hearing.
But Clark argued that environmental documents supporting uranium mining in the region 20 and 30 years ago are “extraordinarily outdated” and are contradicted by newer information.
He said roads and power lines that come with new mines would “fragment wildlife in an otherwise open landscape.” Groundwater could become tainted with uranium and contaminate springs in the Grand Canyon in an arid area where such water sources are especially important to wildlife.
“The ban and the legal challenges to it are critically important as we look forward,” Clark said.
The hearing came the day after mining and nuclear–power associations filed suit in Phoenix to overturn the ban.
The Department of the Interior has imposed a 20-year ban on new mining claims ban on more than 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon. The affected area is outlined in red on this map. Mining is already banned in cross-hatched areas.
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