07/20/2009 - The Interior Department will temporarily block new hardrock mining tomorrow on 1 million acres surrounding the Grand Canyon.
In a notice set for publication in the Federal Register, the department says it will place a two-year hold on leasing on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land near Grand Canyon National Park while it studies the environmental effects of hardrock exploration and mining.
Velma Smith, manager of the Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining, said the Obama administration's action is welcome, but it does not remove the need for Grijalva's legislation. She said the bill would protect the Grand Canyon and nearby communities from environmental and health problems caused by past uranium mining.
"The administration doesn't have the authority to make this withdrawal permanent, but Congress does," Smith said.
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