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A Uranium mine in Northern Arizona. | Photo courtesy of themoreyoudig.com

New Senate Bill may save uranium mining

ST. GEORGE – Senators and Congressmen from Arizona and Utah introduced the Northern Arizona Mining Continuity Act of 2011 today.

The act comes in response and opposition to a proposal by Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior, to withdraw a million acres in the Arizona Strip from multiple-use. Primarily, the Department of the Interior seeks to place a moratorium on the uranium mining which currently takes place in the region.  Salazar and the Department of the Interior based the proposal on the potential danger continued mining posed to the Grand Canyon and ground water sources.

The Department of the Interior ordered an environmental impact study into the effects of mining had on the Arizona Strip and the surrounding environment in 2009. That study concluded in February, 2011.

According to a press release from the office of Utah Senator Mike Lee, “The Department’s own environmental study on the proposed withdrawal found ‘no conclusive evidence’ that modern-day mining operations in this area are harming the Grand Canyon watershed.”

Utah Representative Rob Bishop, a supporter of the new legislation, said that the government must not block mining in the Arizona strip, especially in an area known to contain over a third of the nation’s uranium deposits.

“As it stands, we already depend on other countries for more than 90 percent of our uranium needs,” Bishop said. “The legislation will block yet another federal land grab and help ensure that we have access to our abundant domestic energy resources, which are essential to the future of this country.”

Arizona Congressman David Schweikert added that the bill would stop another attempt by the Obama Administration to do everything “in its power to implement the job-killing policies of fringe environmental groups.”

Congressman Ben Quayle of Arizona stated the government still seeks to close down the Arizona Strip while its own study found no conclusive evidence that the mining caused environmental harm.

“The Administration is once again putting special interests ahead of job creation,” Quayle said.

If the new legislation becomes law, Salazar’s proposal for the Arizona Strip would have to have a congressional stamp of approval first. Without that approval, anything the Department of the Interior would try it impose on its own would have no legal effect.

The Northern Arizona Mining Continuity Act of 2011 is sponsored by Senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch and Congressmen Rob Bishop of Utah, and Senator John McCain and Congressmen Trent Franks, Jeff Flakes, David Schweikert and Ben Quayle of Arizona.

mkessler@stgnews.com

Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent.

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