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US Senate bill would ban mining claims around Grand Canyon

Posted at 11:34 AM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 18:28:20-05

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has introduced a bill that would ban new mining claims around the Grand Canyon.

The Obama administration put about 1,562 square miles (4,045 square kilometers) outside the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park off-limits to new hard rock mining claims until 2032.

The bill would make that permanent.

Environmentalists and Native American tribes applauded Sinema’s introduction of the bill Thursday. They say mining in the Grand Canyon region, particularly for uranium, could contaminate a water source that serves millions of people.

The bill isn’t expected to have an easy ride in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans who have opposed the effort.

The House passed a similar bill introduced by Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the mining industry has been pushing President Donald Trump to boost demand for domestic supplies of uranium, tax breaks and other financial incentives.