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writing for godot

The Grand Canyon, Uranium MIning, and John McCain

Written by David Gowdey   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 17:44
At a time when Occupy Wall Street is giving tangible voice to the outrage most Americans feel about the corrosive influence corporate money is having on policy in Washington, we’re being treated to another blatant example of how Washington just doesn’t get it.

On October 12, Senator John McCain filed a bill in the Senate, SB 1690, designed to subvert a pending action by Secretary of the Interior Salazar and open up a million acres of public land around the Grand Canyon National Park to uranium mining. This despite the fact that polls repeatedly show that 70% of all Americans and two thirds of Arizonans do NOT want this area open to uranium mining, and that the overwhelming majority of the local tribal, county and city governments in the affected area have asked that it be permanently withdrawn from mineral entry. Once again in Congress corporate money is trumping the expressed will of the public.

An October 13, 2011 editorial in the Prescott Courier, a staunchly conservative newspaper in central Arizona, sums the situation up succinctly: "The effort to mine the proposed 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon is a Republican effort, and the paper trail of campaign contributions reveals why. According to U.S. News and World Report, the mining industry has contributed $3.4 million to Republican congressmen and women since 2009, compared to $900,000 for Democrats. In the Senate alone, the average mining industry contribution is almost $30,000 more per Republican than Democrat. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is the highest recipient of mining money among Arizona lawmakers, pulling in more than $42,000 in contributions. Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) is second with almost $40,000"

The stench is even more obvious when you read the text of SB 1690. Obviously written by the industry – it is remarkable even by Washington standards for its mendacity. It may be the most concentrated collection of outright lies and half truths ever put into a Senate Bill.

The bill claims that uranium mining in breccia pipes is low impact and has low risk of toxic pollution. In fact, the exact opposite is true. The Uranium mining industry is arguably the dirtiest industry in America with an almost perfect record of leaving behind serious problems with water pollution and long term toxic contamination wherever it has operated. It falsely claims that the Wilderness bill of 1984 guaranteed that mining would be permitted on the Arizona strip in perpetuity in return for the creation of a number of wilderness areas in other parts of the state– a guarantee that was not only never made, but could not have been made.

SB 1690 makes the usual specious claims about jobs (the government analysis estimates it would generate less than 100 direct jobs for six to seven years). It also pretends that the ore mined would generate revenues for the US government –although the companies involved are all foreign companies and under the 1872 mining law those who discover valuable minerals on public land do not have to pay any royalties on them. In fact, Uranium mining is almost guaranteed to cost the taxpayers money. It uses inflated USGS estimates of the amount of uranium ore in the entire Arizona Strip as though it were all being put off limits to mining, when in fact more than 800,000 acres that doesn’t directly impact the Grand Canyon remains open to mining.

But the most outrageous thing SB 1690 does is to usurp the authority of the Secretary of the Interior in order to turn the area adjacent to the Grand Canyon, the crown jewel of the National Park system and a world heritage site, into an industrial park. An industrial park that not only threatens the ecosystem of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River, but also threatens to contaminate the drinking water of 25 million people downstream in California, Arizona and Nevada.

A landmark decision by Secretary of the Interior Salazar to order a 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims within the Kanab Creek, Havasu Creek, and House Rock Valley watersheds that drain directly into the Grand Canyon is due by the end of the month. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is due out at the end of this month. The Record of Decision will finalize the ban 30 days after the FEIS is released. SB 1690 is just the latest effort by the Mining industry to derail that decision. It’s vital to make sure that this decision is not derailed –and that Congress pays attention to what the 99% want instead of just what the 1% want. This is why those who value the Grand Canyon, and who object to this blatant corporate attempt to overturn an action supported by the majority of Americans, are being asked to call the White House at 202-456-1414 before October 28 to urge that Secretary Salazar’s moratorium on new uranium claims be finalized as soon as possible. your social media marketing partner


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-4 # Senior Veritas 2011-11-14 10:14
The site is not in the Grand Canyon and, pictures I've seen posted by those who oppose jobs and the mines have been photo-shopped. That's dishonest.

The Arizona State Geological Survey has the science and has demonstrated that development of the Arizona Strip poses no danger to the national park or population.

If you don't live in Arizona shut the F** up about things you know nothing about... or better yet, get a real education then open your mouths.
+3 # davegowdey 2011-12-01 23:40
I lived in Arizona for most of my life, it's pretty obvious you haven't since you are so willing to trash the Grand Canyon. The Arizona State Geological Survey is an office that serves primarily as a cheerleader for the mining industry. Real experts who examined the issues of Uranium Mining near the Grand Canyon for the Bureau of Land Management have unanimously found that uranium mining and the toxic waste it generates pose significant potential threats to the region and to the water supply. More to the point, past uranium mining operations in Arizona have ALL left behind legacies of toxic waste and water pollution that have left the Navajo nation one of the largest superfund sites in the country, and left two creeks in the Grand Canyon itself permanently contaminated. It sounds like Mr. SV needs to get himself educated, or simply admit that he works for a uranium mining company.

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