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Interior Secretary To Finalize Uranium Ban Near Grand Canyon

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Aired 1/5/12

The Interior Secretary is expected to issue a Record of Decision finalizing a 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims on land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park.

— The Interior Secretary is expected to finalize Monday a 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims on land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park.

In recent years, uranium mining companies have staked thousands of claims near the park. Those companies say the technology they use protects the watershed.

But the federal government temporarily banned uranium extraction on a million acres surrounding the park so it could study just how much impact mining has on the environment and the economy.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar spoke to a group gathered at the south rim of the canyon in June.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar talks about plan to extend moratorium on uranium mining on land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park
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Above: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar talks about plan to extend moratorium on uranium mining on land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park

"Like our ancestors, we do not know how future Americans will enjoy, experience and benefit from this place," Salazar said. "That’s one of the many reasons why wisdom, caution and science should guide our protection of the Grand Canyon."

Federal officials concluded that uranium remains an important energy resource, but it is still a risk to the environment and needs further study.

The Department of Interior has taken all the steps necessary to put the long term ban in place, called a "record of decision." The uranium industry is expected to appeal the decision.

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