For the past 15 years, I've worked as a rafting guide on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. I've been privileged to share the wonders of this remarkable place with people from all over the world, and they always tell me that the Grand Canyon is the most amazing place they have ever been. That is why I am concerned about the re-opening of uranium mining on 1 million acres of federal public lands adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park.
Since July 20, 2009, a two-year moratorium disallowing new mining operations has been in effect while the Bureau of Land Management conducted an environmental impact study. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been developed that includes four proposed alternatives for management of these lands. The public comment period will end on May 4. It is critical that the BLM hear from all concerned citizens by that date.
I'm supporting Alternative B, which will withdraw about a million acres from hardrock mineral exploration and mining for 20 years, subject to valid existing rights. It would not prevent any other development under laws regulating mineral leasing, geothermal leasing, mineral materials or public lands. The other three alternatives are to take "no action" and allow mining claims to proceed, or to withdraw smaller parcels of land. I feel strongly that the largest possible area should be protected while a long-term study is conducted to discern the farthest-reaching effects of exploratory mining and extraction, including environmental impacts, economic impacts, and social/cultural impacts.