Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 30, 2019


Randi Spivak, Center for Biological Diversity, (310) 779-4894,
Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club, (602) 999-5790 or
Vianey Olivarria, Chispa Arizona, (602) 904-3728
Kelly Burke, Wild Arizona, (928) 606-7870
Amber Reimondo, Grand Canyon Trust, (928) 286-3361
Mike Quigley, The Wilderness Society, (520) 334-8741

Arizonans Celebrate House Passage of Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act

Sens. Sinema, McSally Urged to Champion Bill

PHOENIX― The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act by an overwhelming margin. The bill is sponsored by House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D.-Ariz.) and cosponsored and supported by Arizona U.S. Reps. Tom O’Halleran, Ruben Gallego, Ann Kirkpatrick and Greg Stanton.

Arizona conservation groups, tribal nations, local governments and thousands of Arizonans celebrate today’s passage of the Act. H.R. 1373 will make the 20-year mining moratorium established in 2012 permanent, protecting approximately 1 million acres of public lands north and south of the Grand Canyon from toxic uranium mining.

Arizona supporters of the bill are also calling on Arizona’s U.S. senators to champion this important legislation to protect the Grand Canyon and its watersheds.

“This is a great day for Grand Canyon and all of the people of Arizona who care deeply about this special place — from tribal nations to local government to conservation and community organizations,” said Sandy Bahr, chapter director for Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “We appreciate the leadership and support for the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act from more than half of the Arizona delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives and now call on our two Arizona U.S. Senators to show that same leadership and introduce the bill in the Senate.”

“The Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act must be passed into law because this region is not now, nor will it ever be the right place to mine uranium,” said Amber Reimondo, energy program director for the Grand Canyon Trust. “While Americans are still holding the bag from the last time the government prioritized uranium mining, research has underscored the erratic nature of groundwater flow in this region, and government records have shown just how little the region holds of known recoverable domestic uranium. Uranium mining near the Grand Canyon amounts to little more than an unnecessary gamble of a sacred landscape, a worldwide wonder, and a primary driver of the Northern Arizona economy.”

“By forever protecting Grand Canyon, the Arizona Trail, and the landscapes, wildlife and natural waters, which buoy our outdoor recreation economy, from the generational harms of uranium mining, we will bring Arizonans together for a stronger, better, healthier future in our beloved Grand Canyon State. Today we celebrate moving much closer to this future, and we urge our senators to carry this landmark Grand Canyon bill through to law,” said Kelly Burke, executive director of Wild Arizona.

“This bill is a wonderful gift to future generations. Years from now people will look back and wonder why anyone could’ve opposed it,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Grand Canyon region is under new threats from the Trump administration despite the uranium industry’s toxic legacy. This bill will ensure that the life-giving waters of the planet’s most spectacular canyon are permanently protected from uranium mining’s devastation. We applaud Congressman Grijalva and all members of Congress who are standing up for the Grand Canyon region, its people and its wildlife.”

“The Grand Canyon is an icon and a national treasure. Today's action is a great step forward for Arizona,” said Mike Quigley, Arizona state director with The Wilderness Society. “But the job isn't finished; now we look for leadership in the Senate to make this commonsense measure law.”

“Thank you to Chairman Grijalva for your ongoing leadership to protect one of the country’s greatest treasures, the Grand Canyon,” said Laura Dent, executive director of Chispa Arizona. “The passage of the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act out of the House is progress to ensure that we protect and respect these sacred lands. The Canyon is essential to Arizonans and all people in this country, we must all commit to caring for the canyon and the areas surrounding this global wonder for the future of our environment, the preservation of our cultural heritage and the wellbeing of our communities. We look forward to leadership from our senators to get the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act introduced and passed out of the Senate so the protection of the Grand Canyon can become law.”

Mining in the Grand Canyon region is a threat to the people, land, water and wildlife that make this place so extraordinary. Uranium mining has left a legacy of pollution and health issues on the Navajo Nation and is costing taxpayers significantly for cleanup. The Orphan Mine in Grand Canyon National Park has already cost taxpayers more than $15 million in clean-up costs. In addition to the environmental impact, there is no economic or national security benefit compared to the risk uranium mining poses to the Grand Canyon and the people and economies that depend on it.

In 2012 the Interior Department temporarily withdrew more than 1 million acres of public lands around Grand Canyon National Park from new mining claims under the 1872 Mining Law. This banned new mining claims or the development of all but a handful of pre-existing mines for a period of 20 years, the maximum allowed administratively. That ban has been unsuccessfully challenged by mining interests. But President Donald Trump issued an executive order that resulted in the U.S. Forest Service listing the Grand Canyon mining ban as an action for review to enhance domestic energy development.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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