Forest Service Recommends Modifying Uranium Mining Ban Near Grand Canyon

Environmental groups are sounding the alarm about a new set of recommendations from the Forest Service that include revising the Obama administration’s 20-year ban on new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.

The recommendations are in response to a March executive order issued by President Donald Trump requiring agencies to review all actions that potentially burden the development of domestic energy resources. The order notes that agencies should pay particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.

The proposal to revise the Grand Canyon-area mineral withdrawal is among 15 actions the Forest Service put forth in response to Trump’s executive order.

The recommendations are prioritized, and lifting or modifying the ban on issuing new mining leases is listed as 10th out of 11 priority levels.

The ban, issued by then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in 2012, covers more than 1 million acres of national forest and Bureau of Land Management land. In its response to Trump’s executive order, however, the BLM made no mention of revising the mining ban.

Environmental groups say the Trump administration’s move goes against strong public support for protecting the landscape around Grand Canyon National Park and puts the area’s lands, waters and wildlife at risk of adverse impacts from mining.

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