Tribes Urge Congress to Make Grand Canyon Mining Ban Permanent
Monday, December 27, 2021
Members of native tribes living in or near the Grand Canyon are calling on Congress to make a provisional ban on uranium mining near the park permanent.
A bill pending in the U.S. Senate would codify an Obama administration executive order outlawing new uranium mining on about one million acres in northern Arizona surrounding the iconic national park.
Tribes and environmental groups supporting the Grand Canyon Protection Act said the ban will protect tribal communities' drinking water and the Lower Colorado River watershed.
Carletta Tilousi, member of the Havasupai Tribal Council and the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, said mining the radioactive element puts the land and waterways in and near the canyon in extreme danger.
"We don't want the land to be contaminated," Tilousi asserted. "We're really concerned about the water that seeps into the Colorado River and not only will contaminate the Grand Canyon but will also contaminate people living downstream."
The Havasupai, who live inside the Grand Canyon, were joined by Navajo, Hopi and other tribes in calling for tougher protections. Mining proponents claim adequate environmental safeguards can be provided near the mines, and warned the ban would endanger the U.S. strategic uranium supply.
Tilousi serves as an adviser to the Biden administration on environmental justice issues. She noted the Havasupai have been battling mining interests since the mid-1980s, and pointed out one particular area targeted for mining activity is sacred to her people.
"Red Butte is our sacred mountain," Tilousi explained. "It is a center of our creation stories and the emergence of our people. So we want to keep that mountain protected."
Tilousi added there is a decades-long history of environmental damage and pollution on tribal lands from uranium mining.
"We need all the support we can to protect the Grand Canyon," Tilousi emphasized. "A lot of damage has already been done in the past, and we want to make sure what is left will remain protected from environmental contamination."
Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
get more stories like this via email
One of North Carolina's oldest Historically Black Colleges and Universities is finding new ways to help students stay enrolled and graduate. Recent …
A new survey finds 8 in 10 Kentucky parents say afterschool programs could help their child combat social and mental-health struggles by reducing unpr…
A technology that once existed only in science fiction soon could emerge as a viable solution to climate change. The city of Flagstaff has added …
A new report found Texas likely undercounted the number of people who actually live in the state when gathering information for the 2020 census…
Minnesota has more than 10,000 brownfield sites, which are abandoned or idled properties in need of contamination removal. State officials will soon …
By age 35, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher are about twice as likely as workers with just a high school diploma to have a good job - one …
The mayor of Huntington, where more than 200 homes were recently damaged by severe flooding, said now is the state's "one chance" to prevent other …
Alzheimer's disease is one of the leading causes of death in North Dakota, prompting state officials to launch an online dashboard, where the public …