BY ASHLEY CROCKETT
ANCHOR ANA COMPAIN-ROMERO
You're watching multisource environment video news analysis from Newsy.
Tourists flock to the Grand Canyon for its breathtaking views -- and now miners are flocking for its high-grade uranium. A two-year moratorium on mining enacted by the Obama administration in 2009 is set to expire in July -- sparking debate over whether the government should continue the ban, or let miners in.
Cronkite News reports this is a golden economic opportunity for uranium miners.
“There are more than 5,000 claims to mine around the Grand Canyon. Most of them, like Vein Minerals, are based outside of the U.S. And it’s no wonder the worldwide appeal. Uranium’s value has skyrocketed from around $11 per pound in 2003 to $63 now -- an increase of nearly 500 percent.”
But the economic benefits would only impact the mining companies -- and most of those profits wouldn’t end up in the US. Congress isn’t happy about the growing foreign ownership of uranium mining claims.
High Country News reports -- “Even though over $1 billion worth of hard rock minerals are plucked from, and hauled off, public lands every year, no company -- regardless of where it’s based -- pays state or federal royalties for hard rock mining, or any rental or user fees.”
Environmental groups are up in arms over the prospect of mining in an area prized for its biodiversity. Lynn Hamilton tells Public News Service runoff from existing uranium mines has already polluted several rivers, creeks and springs within the national park.
“It’s really alarming for people to feel like the areas that they’re visiting and recreating in, which they consider to be wilderness areas, are tainted in this way ... Many Native Americans have died from drinking tainted water or from using that water to sustain their livestock and crops when it’s contaminated.”
The Obama Administration has until July 22nd to decide whether or not to enact a new 20-year mining moratorium. Whatever the decision, The Christian Science Monitor reports it will impact more than just the area around the Grand Canyon.
“...the decision could set a precedent for other natural landmarks also being hedged in by uranium and other mining claims.”
According to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory report, hardrock mining produces more toxic waste than any other industry.
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