O’Halleran, Colleagues Re-introduce Grand Canyon Protection Act

February 16, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) joined Congressman Grijalva, Reps. Gallego and Stanton, and others to introduce the Grand Canyon Protection Act, legislation to permanently protect the greater Grand Canyon region from new mining claims and the pollution they would produce. 

The bill – mirroring similar efforts in previous congresses – permanently withdraws slightly more than 1 million acres of federal land north and south of Grand Canyon National Park from eligibility for any future mining claims and leaves valid existing claims intact. Local stakeholders agree that uranium deposits in this part of Northern Arizona should not be mined for fear of contaminating the Grand Canyon or the seeps and springs in the region.

“On the Navajo Nation alone, there are over 500 abandoned World War II and Cold War Era uranium mine sites that cause serious health conditions, like cancer, to this day,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “Uranium mine operations on lands near the Grand Canyon threaten the health of these Arizona families, the water supply of the Southwest, our state’s tourism economy, and the cultural and spiritual significance the Canyon holds for several Native American communities. I am proud to join my colleagues in re-introducing this important bill that protects Arizona’s natural wonder, the 40 million people that rely on Colorado River aquifers, and the families that still suffer from these dangerous operations.”

The area in question is currently in the midst of a 20-year moratorium on new claims instituted in 2012 by then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Unless extended, that moratorium will expire in the next decade.

The legislation is endorsed by the Havasupai, Navajo, and Hopi Tribes, as well as conservation groups including Grand Canyon Trust, the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Wilderness Society, Arizona Faith Network, Earthjustice, Wild Arizona, the Rewilding Institute, HECHO, the Arizona Trail Association, and Trout Unlimited.