Senators and Congressmen Denounce Obama Administration's decision to Ban Uranium Mining in Northern Arizona

January 9, 2012

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Orrin Hatch (R-UT),  John Barrasso (R-WY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) and U.S. Congressmen Rob Bishop (UT-01), Jeff Flake (AZ-06), David Schweikert (AZ-05) and Ben Quayle (AZ-03) issued the following statement denouncing the Obama Administration’s decision announced today by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to withdraw approximately 1 million acres of federal land in northern Arizona from uranium mining:
“The Obama Administration’s ban on uranium mining is a devastating blow to job creation in northern Arizona, particularly in Mohave County,” said Senator John McCain. “This decision is fueled by an emotional public relations campaign pitting the public’s love for the Grand Canyon against a modern form of low-impact mining that occurs many miles from the Canyon walls and in no way impacts the quality of drinking water from the Colorado River. It is deeply unfortunate that certain environmental groups have chosen to break faith with a 30 year-old compromise with environmentalists that successfully balanced conservation with mining and other commercial activities. The Administration has shown that it is either careless enough to break this historic agreement or foolish enough to fall for these groups’ alarmist arguments. Either way, the Obama Administration's decision will cost Arizonans more high paying jobs under the false pretense of 'protecting' one of our national treasures, the Grand Canyon."
"Today's announcement by the Interior Department shows how much this Administration just doesn't get it,” said Senator Orrin Hatch. “Mining this land poses no environmental threat and is expected to create thousands of jobs, but the Administration continues to pander to extremist environmentalists who oppose one of the cleanest sources of energy we have. I wish I could say today's announcement comes as a surprise but sadly it's just another sign that the Obama Administration is one of the most anti-American energy presidencies in history."
“The Obama Administration must end its war on western jobs,” said Senator John Barrasso. “Secretary Salazar’s decision is irresponsible and overturns a reasonable, decades old compromise between conservationists and uranium producers.  With 8.5 percent unemployment, we need the good-paying jobs and the energy that America’s uranium producers provide.  Make no mistake, this decision is a step backwards for the unemployed and America’s energy security.”
“This administration has proven incapable of using even the slightest bit of common sense when it comes to lands policy,” said Senator Mike Lee. “The American people are desperate for jobs, and our domestic energy industry provides some of the best paying jobs in the western states. However, the President and Interior Secretary Salazar are intent on appeasing their friends in the extreme left wing of the environmentalist movement during an election year by locking up as much land as possible, regardless of the negative effects on our economy.  For energy production that has long been safe and responsible, the announcement represents a needless overreaction to a fictitious problem.”
“It is unconscionable that the Administration has yet again caved to political pressure from radical special interest groups rather than standing up for the American people.  Banning access to the most uranium rich land in the United States will be overwhelmingly detrimental to both jobs in Utah and Arizona and our nation’s domestic energy security.  While I’m disappointed that the Administration has again allowed politics to usurp sound science, I am unfortunately not surprised.  The President and his cabinet have proven they’re already on the campaign trail and right now it’s more about pandering to their political allies than doing what’s right for the American people,” said Congressman Rob Bishop, Chairman of the House Natural Resources subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.
“Uranium mining in northern Arizona occurs well outside Grand Canyon National Park and poses no threat to the Grand Canyon or the tourism industry in northern Arizona.  This withdrawal is simply another example of the Obama Administration’s overreach that will stymie local economic growth and local job creation,” said Congressman Jeff Flake.
“I am extremely disappointed that the Obama Administration continues to do everything in its power to implement the job-killing policies of fringe environmental groups. At a time when we are desperate for jobs and economic growth, it’s clear political positioning got the best of the Administration’s decision,” said Congressman David Schweikert.
“Secretary Salazar’s announcement is yet another example of the Obama Administration putting politics above all else,” said Congressman Ben Quayle. “The Department of Interior’s own study shows that uranium mining in this part of Arizona poses little to no environmental risk.  Unfortunately, the President is more concerned with his own re-election and catering to radical environmental groups than creating hundreds of jobs in Arizona.”
The decision by Secretary Salazar disregards the Arizona Wilderness Act of 1984 (AWA), a compromise that permanently banned uranium exploration on over 650,000 acres outside the Grand Canyon through designated Wilderness. This historic agreement was part of a negotiated compromise with environmental groups which affirmed the compatibility of mining with conservation interests in areas not locked away by the Wilderness Act. Additionally, the Interior Department’s own environmental study on the proposed withdrawal found ‘no conclusive evidence’ that modern-day mining operations in this area are harming the Grand Canyon watershed.
Last October, U .S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Lee (R-UT) and John Barrasso (R-WY) and U.S. Congressmen Trent Franks (AZ-02), Rob Bishop (UT-01), Jeff Flake (AZ-06), Paul Gosar (AZ-01), David Schweikert (AZ-05) and Ben Quayle (AZ-03) introduced the Northern Arizona Mining Continuity Act of 2011 in an effort to stop the U.S. Department of the Interior from banning mining in a vast area of Arizona, and killing jobs in the uranium mining industry.