The Trump administration is proposing reopening areas around the Grand Canyon to uranium mining.
The Forest Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released a report Wednesday that recommended rescinding the 20-year uranium mining moratorium around the Grand Canyon installed by former President Barack Obama in 2012.
Obama’s directive banned all new hard-rock mining claims in 1 million acres of public lands outside the Grand Canyon for two decades as a way to protect watersheds from uranium pollution.
“A withdrawal is the right approach for this priceless American landscape,” Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at the time. “We have been entrusted to care for and protect our precious environmental and cultural resources and we have chosen a responsible path that makes sense for this and future generations.”
Republicans and industry groups opposed the move, calling it a power grab that would harm economic opportunity.
Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, the top Democrat of the House Natural Resources Committee, criticized the Trump administration’s bid to review the policy.
“President Trump wants to turn one of the world’s greatest natural wonders into a strip mine,” Grijalva said. “There are no boundaries to his need to spite President Obama’s legacy and everyone he perceives as his enemy.”