The Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club, representing all of Nevada and the Sierra Range of Eastern California, today welcomed the announcement from the U.S. Department of Interior that would place a 20-year moratorium on new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon National Park and Lake Mead, which is the source of drinking water for millions of residents and visitors to Southern Nevada.
“Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is doing the right thing by putting a moratorium on uranium mining on the Arizona Strip northeast of Las Vegas,” said Taj Ainlay, chair of the Southern Nevada Group of the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club. “The Colorado River provides 2 million people in Southern Nevada, and 40 million annual visitors, with a safe, reliable source of drinking water through Lake Mead. Industrial mining literally a few miles upstream from Lake Mead would threaten that water source.”
The announcement also protects the Grand Canyon from the scarring effects of hard-rock mining, noted Jane Feldman, chair of the Southern Nevada Group conservation committee.
“Modern mining technologies move huge amounts of dirt and rock and permanently change the landscape. We do not want the majestic views of the Grand Canyon permanently scarred by a race for short-term profit,” she said. “Grand Canyon National Park is a critical business engine for our region, generating $700 billion annually and supporting 12,000 full-time jobs.”
The Toiyabe Chapter and Grand Canyon (Arizona) Sierra Club chapters joined with the National Parks Conservation Association, the Nevada Conservation League, Native American governments and numerous others government agencies and nonprofit groups to support the announcement today. However, bills proposed in Congress could bypass the Interior decision and open up the Colorado River areas to new uranium mining.
Feldman and Ainlay urged those who want to protect the Grand Canyon and maintain a safe, reliable water supply in the Colorado River to contact their congressional representatives and urge them to oppose the pro-mining bills.
“The Colorado River sustains the agriculture for most of America’s winter vegetables and the drinking water for 25 million people in California, Arizona and Mexico,” Ainlay said. “It is an economic engine that benefits the entire West. We can’t afford to gamble with any threat to that water source.”Tweet