Uranium mining would be banned permanently on 1.7 million acres around the Grand Canyon under legislation proposed Monday by U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva.
The Southern Arizona Democrat introduced the bill with support from 11 Native American tribes, including the Havasupai, which lives at the bottom of the canyon.
Havasupai Tribal Council member Carletta Tilousi said her tribe is at the front lines of fighting groundwater contamination from uranium mining.
"We the Havasupai would like to keep our canyon home clean of no uranium mining," Tilousi said. "We’d like to see our water remain clean of no uranium mining. We’d like to see our children live in a clean environment, go to our sacred mountains in peace and pray and do our offerings."
Energy Fuels, a uranium mining company, has revealed plans to reopen an old mine and extract uranium on Red Butte, what the Havasupai consider sacred.
What Grijalva calls the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act would preserve and restore sacred lands, the watershed and the environment surrounding Grand Canyon National Park on 1.7 million acres that already are government owned.
In 2012, the Obama administration put a 20-year moratorium on new uranium mining claims in and near the canyon, and the proposed legislation would make the ban permanent.