WASHINGTON, D.C. – Arizona’s Senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema has introduced a bill to protect the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon Protection Act, S.3127, states its intent as being “to protect, for current and future generations, the watershed, ecosystem, and cultural heritage of the Grand Canyon.”
“Arizona’s economy depends on protecting the Grand Canyon and ensuring it remains a safe and stunning part of our outdoor heritage for generations to come,” said Sinema via a released statement.
The Havasupai Tribal Council has welcomed Senator Sinema’s support. “Thirty years ago, when we first began fighting against the disastrous effects of uranium mining in our homelands, we were alone in this fight,” said Muriel Uqualla, Havasupai Tribal Chairwoman. “Sen. Sinema’s announcement earlier today sends a strong message that it is important to protect the Grand Canyon. Not only for the Havasupai people, but for all people, for generations to come.”
The Tribe has long sought a permanent moratorium in order to eliminate the threat that uranium mining near the Canyon poses to its reservation community, which relies upon the aquifers below the moratorium area. The aquifers feed Havasu Creek and the seeps and springs on the reservation, which serve as the sole sources of water for the Tribe and are of great cultural importance to the Havasupai people.
Havasupai Tribal Councilwoman Carletta Tilousi, who has been fighting to protect her community from the harmful effects of uranium since she was 15 years old, noted that, “It is so important to have the support of both the House and the Senate in the protection of future generations of Havasupai people, and to protect the 40 million Americans downstream of the Grand Canyon who rely upon the Colorado River as their drinking water supply.”
“The Havasupai Tribe welcomes Senator Sinema’s support of this important legislation. This support demonstrates that she, along with the supporters from the House, recognize the importance of the Grand Canyon now and into the future,” said Uqualla.
“There is no reality in which it is worthwhile to endanger the Grand Canyon, the lives and cultures of Indigenous communities, and millions of people and the economies that support them,” said Amber Reimondo, energy program director for the Grand Canyon Trust. “For those reasons, the Grand Canyon region is, and forever will be, too precious to mine and today we are grateful to Senator Sinema for her leadership in advancing a permanent mining ban around the Grand Canyon.”
“The Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act is an exciting step to permanently protect the lands and water that are so valuable and precious to Flagstaff and northern Arizona,” said Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans. “Grand Canyon National Park is the lifeblood of our community and economy and protecting it now and for future generations is of paramount interest. We are grateful for the work of Senator Sinema to protect this area and also to Congressmen Grijalva and O’Halleran.”
Currently, the Grand Canyon welcomes over 6 million visitors a year, contributes $1.2 billion to local economies, and supports over 12,500 jobs in the region.
Sinema’s bill seeks to prohibit new uranium mining around the Grand Canyon National Park whilst protecting Arizona’s water supply, outdoor recreation and tourism industries, and tribal communities.
Congressman Raul Grijalva introduced similar legislation, HR.1373, in the U.S. House earlier this year. The two bills, H.R.1373 and S.3217, have been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources where they await further legislative action.