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Quick take

Grijalva on Grand Canyon uranium mining: 'No boundaries to Trump's spite'

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva dug in Wednesday against an administration proposal to reopen areas around the Grand Canyon to uranium mining: "President Trump wants to turn one of the world’s greatest natural wonders into a strip mine... there are no boundaries to his spite."

The Tucson Democrat reacted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's report to Trump released Wednesday, which recommended – among other measures – rescinding the 20-year uranium mining moratorium around the Grand Canyon.

"President Trump wants to turn one of the world's greatest natural wonders into a strip mine," said Grijalva, the ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee. "There are no boundaries to his need to spite President Obama's legacy and everyone he perceives as his enemy. He's already shown he has nothing but contempt for the environment. Next he’ll show he has nothing but contempt for history, Native American rights, the state of Arizona or the American people."

Others also assailed the move to end the ban on mining near the canyon.

“This appalling recommendation threatens to destroy one of the world’s most breathtakingly beautiful regions to give free handouts to the mining industry,” said Allison Melton, an attorney for the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump administration’s willingness to sacrifice our natural treasures to polluters knows no bounds."

The mining moratorium, instituted in 2012 by then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, bans new mining claims, exploration and mining — except for pre-existing mining rights — to protect watersheds from uranium mining pollution. Past mining in the region has polluted soils, washes, aquifers and drinking water.

"One million acres of public lands around Grand Canyon were protected from destructive uranium mining due to significant public support and recognition of what is at risk — Grand Canyon's watershed, its wildlife, and so much more," said Sandy Bahr, director of Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter.

"This is a dangerous industry that is motivated by profit and greed with a long history of significantly damaging lands and waters. They are now seeking new mines when this industry has yet to clean up the hundreds of existing mines all over the landscape that continue to damage our home. We should learn from the past, not ignore it," said Havasupai Tribal Chairman Don E. Watahomigie.

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Hundreds of abandoned uranium mines have yet to be cleaned up, including more than 500 on the Navajo Nation.

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