The Trump administration is considering a policy that could spark a renewed push for uranium mining in northern Arizona near the Grand Canyon, and pit environmentalists against the mining industry in a vicious political battle with grave consequences for Native Americans in the region.
The potential shift in strategy was published by the commerce department this week, and would speed up the permitting process for mining operations. The report also asks for a “thorough review” of bans on mining on federal lands, and comes amid a government effort to prioritise domestic mineral production viewed as “critical” to US economic and national security.
Activists say that the decision to consider a new strategy for reducing American dependence on foreign minerals could have disastrous impacts, and potentially poison the groundwater that a whole community relies on.
“Uranium mining companies have run into problems that prove that they’re not actually guaranteed to be safe, and the problem is, if this groundwater contamination happens in particular, there’s no going back,” Amber Reimondo, the energy programme director with the Grand Canyon Trust, told The Independent.
While uranium mining has been conducted in the Grand Canyon previously, activists and opponents of the Trump administration’s efforts to open up the land say that it had disastrous ecological impacts in the area.
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