Fending off pressure from the mining industry and congressional Republicans, the Obama administration is moving forward with a plan to ban new uranium mining claims on 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to finalize a 20-year ban on new mining claims on public land surrounding the Grand Canyon at an event Monday in Washington.
Republican members of Arizona's congressional delegation have lambasted temporary bans imposed by Salazar in 2009 and again last year.
Environmental groups call the ban a long-awaited but decisive victory, noting that the Colorado River, which runs through the Grand Canyon, is the source of drinking water for 26 million Americans.
"Despite significant pressure from the mining industry, the president and Secretary Salazar did not back down," said Jane Danowitz, U.S. public lands director for the Pew Environment Group.
As outlined in October, the ban would not affect more than 3,000 mining claims already staked in the area near the Grand Canyon.
Supporters of the ban say any increase in mining jobs is not worth risks to the Colorado River, lands considered sacred by American Indian tribes or wildlife habitat. A mining mishap also could be disastrous for tourism in one of the nation's most-visited parks.
Read the full article, New 20-Year Ban on Mining Near Grand Canyon Finalized on the USA Today website.