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VICTORY! Supreme Court: Grand Canyon Uranium-Mining Ban Stands

Grand Canyon Trust
North Rim. Photo by Blake McCord

Dear James,

Ready for some good news? The Grand Canyon uranium ban stands!

After a protracted legal battle to defend the temporary ban on new uranium claims around the Grand Canyon from attacks by the mining industry, the highest court in the land has finally put the matter to rest. On Monday, the Supreme Court denied an industry challenge to a lower court’s decision upholding the ban. This puts an end to the legal battle to reopen about 1 million acres of public land around the Grand Canyon to new uranium mining. We’re deeply grateful for the government’s savvy and forceful efforts to defeat the mining industry’s lawsuit, from the trial court to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The culmination of years of hard work, this victory is shared — with the Havasupai Tribe who make their home at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, with hunting and angling groups, local governments, allies in Congress, and other partners. And we wouldn’t be here without the hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens like you who have raised their voices to protect the Grand Canyon. Thank you.

While this decision is a very big step in the right direction, our work isn’t over yet. The current administration could still decide to lift the ban. It has listed uranium as a “critical mineral” and the Department of Commerce is in the midst of developing a strategy to streamline access to critical mineral deposits, including uranium. The Department of Commerce is also investigating, at the request of two uranium companies, whether to recommend uranium import quotas. Both of these things have significant potential to add political pressure to lift the ban.

Who owns uranium claims around the Grand Canyon? There are more than 800 active mining claims around the Grand Canyon.

The mining industry promises to continue to advocate against the ban and some politicians openly call for the ban to be rescinded.

A U.S. Forest Service recommendation to review and revise the ban is still floating in the ether.

In a meeting last month, Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt told the Grand Canyon Trust that the agency currently has “no reason” to reconsider the ban. We’re very happy to hear this, of course, but we remain alert to the ever-shifting circumstances that could move this administration to give in to political pressure and open the door to attempts to weaken or lift the ban.

Thank you for your support over the last months and years, and for sticking with us for the long haul, working together to Keep the Canyon Grand.

Sincerely,

Amber Reimondo
Energy Program Director

P.S. While this is a critical win, we’re celebrating with vigilance. Pressure from the mining industry continues. Now is the time to double down on protections for the Grand Canyon. Donate to the Trust today.

Photo courtesy of Blake McCord.

Grand Canyon Trust
2601 N. Fort Valley Rd

Flagstaff, AZ, 86001
Phone: (928) 774-7488
grandcanyontrust.org

@GrandCanynTrust @GrandCanyonNPS @NatlParkService #PaddlesportsLaw #GCRG #GrandCanyonRiverGuides #WhitewaterPark #WhitewaterLaw #RecLaw #RecreationLaw #OutdoorLaw #OutdoorRecreationLaw #OutdoorIndustry #ORLawTextbook

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BOATMAN’S BETA

Heads up, all Canyon and River Advocates:

You may be aware of the recent move by this administration to de-fund the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program and the Upper Basin Fish Recovery Programs. You can learn more here:

http://www.knau.org/post/government-defunds-grand-canyon-scientific-research

http://www.knau.org/post/jobs-research-risk-after-government-defunds-grand-canyon-programs

Please be aware that the four environmental and recreational stakeholders within the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (National Parks Conservation Association, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, Grand Canyon River Guides, and Fly Fishers International/Trout Unlimited), along with 15 other allied organizations, have sent a joint letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), asking them to rescind the directive that would transfer $23 million dollars in Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP) revenues to the US Treasury, instead of supporting these critical programs.

We have submitted a similar letter to Congressional reps in regards to an amendment to an appropriations bill that would also restore those funds (in case the OMB doesn’t rescind its directive).

Other actions include:

  • Strong joint letters from the 7 Basin States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming).
  • A consensus motion passed by the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Work Group (AMWG) at their recent meeting in Flagstaff expressing their concern about the redirection of CRSP revenues, and a recommendation that the Secretary of the Interior communicate to the OMB the concerns from the AMWG about adequate funding for these critically important programs, consistent with Congressional authorizations.
  • Other organizations are working on crafting their own letters.

GCRG is involved and taking action because:
1) Our primary goal is “Protect Grand Canyon.” This move by the OMB to essentially “de-fund” the science that serves as the foundation of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program would put the future health of the Colorado River at risk.

2) GCRG was heavily involved in the passage of the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992 (Public Law 102-575) which directed the Secretary of the Interior to manage Glen Canyon Dam in such a way as to “protect, mitigate adverse impacts to and improve the values for which Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area were established.” We want to ensure that the mandates of this critical legislation can be fulfilled in the future.

3) GCRG has served as the recreational river running stakeholder within the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program since its inception (for over 20 years now) and we are invested in having that program continue to provide policy recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior based on best available science.

4) We recognize that the revenues must be restored so that these critical programs can continue. To fail to do so will have crippling basin-wide ramifications – legal, regulatory, and economic.

Here are some ways YOU can help:

  • Please thank Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) for his support of Grand Canyon, including his support of our stance on the necessity of these critical programs and the science that fuels them.
  • Call your local representatives NOW to express concern about the defunding of science in Grand Canyon and the fish recovery programs in the Upper Basin. These are effective and successful regional programs that enjoy strong grassroots support! Many local and regional jobs are also at stake — the economic impact of the loss of $23 million would be significant and long lasting, negatively affecting jobs and livelihoods.
  • Provide feedback and express your grave concern to the Secretary of the Interior. Tell Secretary Zinke to please stand up for Grand Canyon and the Colorado River (and for science-based management), by ensuring that the OMB fully restores those CRSP revenues. The Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program and the Upper Basin Fish Recovery Programs must continue their important work!

Thank you very much for your passionate stewardship of this iconic national treasure. We will let you know how things develop. On a positive note, the Bureau of Reclamation has expressed their commitment to providing some “bridge funding” until a long term solution is found. But for now, the future is quite uncertain….

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