By Joel Scanlon
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar may have thought that the ban on mining near the Grand Canyon would give him some breathing space from environmentalists, but he would not have expected the fall out with Arizona congressman Jeff Flake.
The Republican representative said that the temporary ban instated by Ken Salalzaar is overstepping his authority and hurtful to the Arizona economy. He wishes the mining industry to be allowed to pursue the staking claims in the one million acre region around the Grand Canyon.
He announced a rider to the 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday which would prevent the Interior Department from withdrawing the land from all new mining claims for the next 20 years without approval from Congress. This would also nullify the Interior Secretary’s ban on mining in the area for another six months.
Roger Clark, the air and energy program director of the Grand Canyon Trust, said that Flake’s statement that the ban on uranium mining in the area would impact the economy was interesting considering the results of an analysis of the federal government's environmental impact statement done for the organization by Richard Merritt from Edward D. Pollack & Company.
As per Merrit the federal government had overrated the amount of uranium ore each mine would produce. It also overestimated the value of the ore and its finished product and the number of employees needed to run the mines. The bill which will include Flake's rider will be heard by the full House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.