President Obama has banned uranium mining on 1 million acres of land around the Grand Canyon for the next 20 years, a large step toward preserving one of the largest natural wonders of the world.
The move was opposed by the mining industry and some Republicans, but environmental groups have said this will likely secure his environmental legacy.
There are still roughly 3,200 mining claims around the canyon, and 11 uranium mines will still be used. Government officials proposed the ban in October of last year, bringing light to the value of preservation of an “iconic landscape.”
While many republicans, including George W. Bush and former presidential candidate John McCain, have strongly opposed stopping uranium mining in these lands due to economic concerns, many environmentalists say it will make more economic sense.
“Extending the current moratorium on new uranium mining claims will protect tourism related jobs, drinking water for millions downstream, and critical wildlife habitat,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation voters.
The concerns about mining are real. At least one creek in the national park is contaminated with uranium, and the government’s environmental impact review found alarming levels of arsenic from previous uranium operations, as well as contamination in the Colorado river.
Do you think it’s a wise idea to prevent uranium mining in the Grand Canyon area? Aside from the not insignificant amount of tourism, is it not a bad idea to just leave nature alone here?