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Joe Biden’s new monument close to the Grand Canyon stops some — however not all — uranium mining

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The Biden administration announced the creation of a brand new nationwide monument surrounding the Grand Canyon within the hopes of defending it from mining and growth. However that also received’t cease a controversial mine from producing uranium inside the monument’s boundaries.

Biden’s designation of a brand new nationwide monument is anticipated to guard almost 1 million acres of land and cease new mining and growth. However with mining rights already grandfathered in, the prevailing Pinyon Plain Mine is an exception.

The mine has been on the middle of a decades-long struggle over the way forward for home uranium manufacturing and nuclear power within the US. Uranium has already contaminated land and water within the Southwest, making folks sick. The Havasupai Tribe and environmental advocates have fought to cease the identical factor from taking place close to the Grand Canyon.

“Though there’s nonetheless extra work to do, we’ll sleep simpler tonight realizing that our water, sacred websites, and plant medicines are extra protected, and that our ancestors’ tears are lastly tears of happiness,” Thomas Siyuja Sr, chair for the Havasupai Tribe, stated in a press release.

“Though there’s nonetheless extra work to do, we’ll sleep simpler tonight realizing that our water, sacred websites, and plant medicines are extra protected, and that our ancestors’ tears are lastly tears of happiness.”

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President Joe Biden signed a proclamation at this time establishing the brand new nationwide monument referred to as Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon Nationwide Monument in northern Arizona. It encompasses three areas simply south, northeast, and northwest of Grand Canyon Nationwide Park. Baaj nwaavjo, within the Havasupai language, interprets to “the place Indigenous peoples roam” in English. I’tah kukveni, within the language of the Hopi Tribe, means “our ancestral footprints” in English.

The designation is meant to guard 1000’s of cultural and sacred websites tied to a at the very least a dozen tribal nations, together with the Havasupai Tribe. Most of the tribes had lobbied to create the nationwide monument. It “helps deal with injustices of the previous, together with when Tribes have been forcibly faraway from lands that later turned Grand Canyon Nationwide Park,” a White House fact sheet says.

There’s been a ban on uranium mining within the space since 2012, however that was set to run out in 2032. With a nationwide monument in place, that momentary ban turns into everlasting. The world reportedly holds about 1.3 p.c of US uranium reserves.

Regardless of the brand new protections, the designation of a nationwide monument received’t infringe on present mining claims that predated the 2012 ban. “The 2 permitted mining operations inside the boundaries of the monument would be capable to function,” in accordance with the very fact sheet.

Pinyon Plain Mine, slightly over 10 miles from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, was permitted in 1986. An organization referred to as Power Fuels holds the rights to mine uranium and copper there however has but to supply any uranium. It has confronted authorized battles, protests by tribes and environmental teams, and stiff competition from international uranium suppliers for years.

However after current courtroom victories and rising curiosity in securing home uranium provides (partly to avoid buying it from Russia), Power Fuels tells Bloomberg Law that it plans to begin manufacturing inside the subsequent couple of years. “It simply doesn’t appear to be nice coverage to be locking up our greatest uranium deposits,” Power Fuels vice chairman Curtis Moore stated.

The Chilly Conflict-era growth in uranium mining left Navajo Nation land pockmarked with greater than 500 abandoned mines. Air pollution across the mines has been linked to kidney diseasecancer, and a neuropathic syndrome in youngsters. 

“We all know from firsthand expertise the injury that may be attributable to yellow grime contaminating our water and poisoning our animals and our youngsters,” stated Buu Nygren, president of Navajo Nation, in a press release. “The Grand Canyon is simply too vital to not defend.”

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