Leading Democrats urge environmental protections at Grand Canyon, Chaco Culture Historical Park
Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee
At yesterday’s recently concluded hearing on protecting Arizona and New Mexico from pollution by extractive industries, Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) urged the House and Senate to pass his Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act (H.R. 1373), which sets a permanent moratorium on new mining claims on approximately 1 million acres north and south of Grand Canyon National Park. The bill is especially timely given the Department of Commerce’s June 4 recommendations to further deregulate the mining of uranium, among other substances.
Uranium is found in the Grand Canyon region, where the Canyon Mine has already polluted water sources and raised concerns among tribes, businesses, conservationists and local residents who support a clean Colorado River and depend on well-preserved public lands for their livelihood.
Also at the hearing, witnesses spoke on the need to pass Assistant Speaker Rep. Ben Ray Luján’s (D-N.M.) Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act, which withdraws federal land around New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park from future oil and gas leasing. Grijalva, Luján and other Democratic lawmakers held an April 15 field hearing in Santa Fe on the already dramatic levels of methane pollution in northern New Mexico from heavy oil and gas development in the San Juan Basin.
During yesterday’s hearing, Grijalva pushed Michael Nedd, deputy director for operations at the Bureau of Land Management, to acknowledge that uranium mining on federal land generates no royalty for taxpayers. Grijalva questioned the Trump administration’s rhetoric on speeding mining permits for national security reasons, noting, “This energy self-sufficiency dominance begs the question about how much we’re sending out of the country with no royalty being paid to the American taxpayer.”
A video of that exchange is available below.
A separate video highlighting support for Grijalva’s bill, featuring Native American and conservationist allies, is available below.
The Natural Resources Committee is expected to vote on Grijalva’s and Luján’s bills later this month.