Grijalva: If Secretary Zinke Wants to Protect the Grand Canyon, He Should Support Permanent Ban on New Uranium Claims and Full LWCF Funding

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), an original cosponsor of the bipartisan bill funding the National Park Service (NPS) maintenance backlog recently approved by the Natural Resources Committee, said today that if Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke truly wants to improve Grand Canyon National Park – as he is signaling with his trip this weekend to discuss maintenance needs – he should work with Congress to end new uranium mining in the park’s watershed and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

A temporary moratorium on new uranium mining claims, instituted under the Obama administration in 2012, will expire in 2032 unless Congress extends it or makes it permanent. The Grand Canyon and its surrounding area have already suffered air and water quality degradation from uranium mining, with multinational companies eager to file new claims.  

Authorization for LWCF, which supports federal and local conservation projects and helps NPS sites purchase property from willing sellers, will expire on Sept. 30 unless Congress acts in the meantime. LWCF money plays a critical role in Arizona and around the country in conserving open spaces and expanding opportunities for outdoor recreation.

“I want to see leaking roofs repaired and crumbling roads rebuilt, but even more importantly I want clean air to breathe and clean water that’s safe to drink,” Grijalva said today. “Secretary Zinke can play a crucial role in protecting Grand Canyon National Park and our country’s many other wonders if he pushes for real pollution control measures and less exploitation of sensitive environments. Fixing up a visitor center in a national park is important, but it doesn’t mean much if the natural resources the park was created to protect are being destroyed.”

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