U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and retired Senator Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ) sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week opposing the withdrawal of "any part of the Arizona Strip and similar National Forest lands south of the Grand Canyon from mineral entry that would ultimately block further uranium mining in the area." [right, proposed withdrawal areas and land management status. Credit, BLM]
The pair argue that the withdrawal violates the spirit of the 1983/84 agreements on wilderness designations in the region, which they say ensured "that the Grand Canyon watershed was fully protected and allowed mining and grazing to continue in the remaining areas of the region."
They also say that research by the USGS and preliminary research by UA scientists confirm that "uranium exploration and mining pose no threat to the Grand Canyon watershed or to the Park."
To break the impasse, the pair is calling for a National Research Council - National Academy of Sciences review of the objective basis to withdraw the lands.