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Public Lands:
state land; natural resources

Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: HCM2006
Sponsor: Jones, Konopnicki: Barto, et al
Legislative Session: 2009 Legislative Session

HCM2006 is a memorial to congress, commonly referred to as a “postcard.  It includes a bunch of statements that are neither factual nor accurate.  It goes on to ask Congress to “. . . refrain from passing any new legislation to withdraw any lands in Arizona from mining, and refrain from enacting any wilderness designations in Arizona without the unanimous support of Arizona’s congressional delegation.”  It asks, “That the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service not limit the public’s access to public lands under their jurisdiction for mining, grazing, recreation or other uses.”  This is just what we need, more trashed public lands, polluted ground and surface water, and a big mess for the public to clean up.


To read the memorial, just click on HCM2006.

Action Needed

To email your state senator or to find his/her direct phone number, click on senators.  If you are not sure who your senator is, please go to Vote Smart or call the Senate information desk.  If you're outside the Phoenix area, you can call your legislators’ offices toll free at 1-800-352-8404.  In the Phoenix area call (602) 926-3559 (Senate) and ask them to connect you with your legislators.


Sandy Bahr at 602-253-8633 or sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org


·         Spikes in the price of uranium have caused thousands new uranium claims, dozens of exploratory drilling projects, and movement to open several uranium mines on public lands immediately north and south of Grand Canyon.          

·         In December 2007, the Kaibab National Forest unlawfully approved a proposal by VANE Minerals to explore for uranium in the Tusayan Ranger District using a “categorical exclusion,” the least rigorous analysis available to the agency under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). We won a lawsuit concerning this proposal in September 2008. As a result, the Forest Service will be required to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before allowing any new exploration projects.        

·         In October 2008, the Forest Service initiated an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a Vane Minerals / Uranium One proposal to explore for uranium on up to twenty-five sites on the Tusayan Ranger District. The Draft EIS for the VANE Minerals Uranium Exploratory Drilling Project is expected to be available for public review in March 2009.    

·         The Canyon Mine’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was developed back in the 1980s during the last uranium rush. Its owners are now proposing to reopen the mine as a full mining operation – without doing a new EIS. The Canyon Mine is located close to Red Butte, a site sacred to the Havasupai tribe and only 13 miles south of Grand Canyon. Conservationists and the Havasupai tribe have previously objected to this mine.         l

·         The cumulative impacts of numerous exploration proposals and mining activities can result in significant negative impacts to environmental and cultural resources.        

·         Concerns about surface- and ground-water contamination of Grand Canyon National Park and the Colorado River have been expressed by former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano; the Los Angeles Water District; the Southern Nevada Water Authority; the Arizona Game and Fish Department; the Navajo, Hopi, Havasupai, Hualapai and Kaibab Paiute nations; and Coconino County.        

·         According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are more than 500,000 abandoned mines that will cost $50 billion to reclaim.·          

·         The negative impacts of large scale mining development, with the attendant noise pollution, air pollution, and traffic generated by mining activities, could seriously degrade the visitor experiences at Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon National Park generates more than $687 million dollars for the northern Arizona economy each year. Adverse impacts to the Grand Canyon could hurt the area’s tourism and recreation business.

·         In January 2009, Representative Raśl Grijalva (D-AZ) re-introduced H.R.644 Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act of 2009, legislation that bans the establishment of new mining claims on approximately one million acres of public lands (national forests and Bureau of Land Management Lands) bordering Grand Canyon National Park.       

·         Previously established, or “proven” claims, will still be allowed to operate under the 1872 Mining Law. Therefore, it is critical that this legislative withdrawal also act as a big step towards much needed reform of this arcane law.

·         Due to the need for immediate action to protect the Grand Canyon from uranium mining, in June 2008 the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee issued an emergency resolution to block uranium mining on one million acres of public land near the Grand Canyon. The Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne (he is no longer Secretary of Interior) never signed this resolution even though it was required by law for him to do so. The Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Trust, and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the secretary in September 2008 challenging the authorization of the uranium exploration near Grand Canyon National Park in defiance of the congressional emergency resolution prohibiting such activities.  That lawsuit is pending.      

·         Soon after, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed to abolish the rule that allowed the Congressional Committee to block uranium mining around the Grand Canyon. The BLM allowed only 15 days for public comment on this significant federal action. We are hoping that this will be one of the last-minute rule changes that will be rescinded by the new Obama administration.


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