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WASHINGTON - Navajo President Ben Shelly applauded Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar for signing "A Record of Decision" withdrawing one million acres of land near the Grand Canyon from new mining claims for 20 years during a ceremony held today at the National Geographic Society.
Grand Canyon Watershed
"I support Secretary Salazar's announcement regarding withdrawing public lands from new uranium mining. The Navajo Nation is against uranium mining and has banned uranium mining since 2005 because of the health issues related to mining the radioactive material,"
President Shelly said.
"I support the announcement because of what we have experienced as Navajo people. We have lost the quality of life for many of our Navajo people who worked in the mines including their families and affected communities. Secretary Salazar's decision protects the water and land, but most importantly, the health of the people."
Salazar said his action does not prohibit previously approved uranium mining and that new projects could be approved on claims and sites with valid existing rights. He said more than 350,000 comments were submitted during the rule-making process.
“A withdrawal is the right approach for this priceless American landscape,”
"People from all over the country and around the world come to visit the Grand Canyon. Numerous American Indian tribes regard this magnificent icon as a sacred place, and millions of people in the Colorado River Basin depend on the river for drinking water, irrigation, industrial and environmental use. 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."
Those present at the ceremony today included US House of Representative Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and Ed Markey of Massachusetts. Congressman Markey is the ranking member on the Committee on Natural Resources and Congressman Grijalva is the ranking member on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.
"It is not in our national security interest to jeopardize this critical ecosystem or put at risk a water supply relied on by 25 million Americans,"
said Grijalva who introduced legislation (HR 855) last year to protect the Grand Canyon watershed.
posted January 10, 2011 6:00 am est
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