Op-Ed: Gamma Rays and the Grand Canyon
U.S. Forest Service authorizes a uranium mine just six miles from the canyon
for National Geographic
Published May 20, 2013
Uranium mining has left a poisonous legacy in the Four Corners region of the Colorado Plateau—Indian country where Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado come together. Last year Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, mindful of that legacy, imposed a 20-year ban on any new uranium extraction or other hardrock mining on more than one million acres around the Grand Canyon.
The mining industry counterattacked with a sweeping attempt to reverse the ban. This March, the miners failed in court, when a federal judge denied their motion to overturn the Salazar decision on constitutional grounds. A tactical, piecemeal circumvention of the ban has had better luck in the bureaucracy of the U.S. Forest Service. The USFS, despite the anti-mining intent of their boss President Obama, authorized a Canadian company to dig uranium six miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Havasupai Tribe, the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Grand Canyon Trust have sued to stop the mine.