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National Briefing / WASHINGTON, D.C.

A plan to protect land from mining

June 26, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

One million acres of public land near the Grand Canyon would be off-limits to new uranium mining under an emergency declaration adopted by a House committee.

Tapping a rare provision not used in more than 20 years, the House Natural Resources Committee voted 20 to 2 to stop new claims to uranium for up to three years on land adjacent to the national park.

Supporters of the measure, which was advanced by Democrat Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona, said a rush of claims to mine the area threatened the natural landscape that lures 5 million visitors to the park each year. The mining, which requires crushing rock and using solvents to remove the uranium, could also taint the Colorado River, a source of drinking water for millions.

Republicans left the room in protest before the vote.

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