Arizona Republican House leaders oppose Biden’s Grand Canyon monument designation

Aug 10, 2023, 5:00 PM

Biden signing Grand Canyon proclamation...

US President Joe Biden hands a pen to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema after signing a proclamation to designate Baaj Nwaavjo I'tah Kukveni -- Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument, at Red Butte Airfield, 25 miles south of Tusayan, Arizona, on Aug. 8, 2023. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — After President Joe Biden’s visit to Arizona Tuesday to sign a national monument designation for the greater Grand Canyon, state Republican House leaders released a statement Thursday opposing the announcement.

Republican leaders argue it would remove the state from economic production, permanently banning critical mineral and metal mining and “multiple use activities” on the lands, according to a resolution adopted at an emergency special meeting Monday in Kingman.

Arizona Native American tribes have been urging Biden to use his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to create a new national monument named Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni.

The act is for the Preservation of American Antiquities to provide general legal protection of cultural and national resources of historic or scientific interest on federal lands.

“The conservation and stewardship of the broader Grand Canyon region have helped safeguard the integrity of vital natural resources important to the Nation’s health and well-being, including clean drinking water that flows through the region’s springs and streams and into the Colorado River, before eventually reaching the taps of millions of homes across the Southwest,” Biden said in his Grand Canyon monument proclamation.

State GOP leaders say designation will affect local communities, economy

Although the designation was supported by Native American tribes, majority leaders said in the statement that affected communities in Mohave and Coconino counties were ignored and cut out of the process.

“After hearing testimony from the local community, we believe this deal is bad for Arizona and the American People. Today, with more than 80 percent of critical minerals coming from foreign sources, our country has never been more dependent on others for natural resources, including resources we need to enable a 21st Century economy,” the statement said.

“This includes uranium, which is critical for not only national defense, but also for clean energy and modern medicine. Nearly half of all the uranium we use for nuclear power comes from Russia or Russia-controlled states, which provides up to $1 billion each year to the Russian state-owned nuclear agency and helps to fuel Russia’s war machine.”

Where does the U.S. get minerals?

The USGS said the U.S. imports its mineral commodities from a wide variety of countries and in no case is the United States fully reliant on a single country for a mineral resource.

China is the single largest source of mineral commodities for the U.S., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Kazakhstan and Russia provide nearly 50% of Uranium which is widely used by nuclear power plants for nuclear fission

Out of the 47 mineral commodities that the U.S. is more than 50 percent reliant on foreign sources, 24 came in part from China, according to the USGS.

“As Americans, we believe “American Made” means “American Mined. We need natural resources, like uranium, to achieve energy and mineral independence in the United States,” State Republican leaders said in the statement.

“We simply cannot achieve reliable and affordable clean energy without nuclear power, but the President’s backwards policies, which pick the side of foreign adversaries like China and Russia over the United States, will only drive-up costs for consumers and make our ability to ensure clean air and water for everyone that much more challenging.”

The monument site has around 1.3% of the nation’s known and understood uranium reserves. There are significant resources in other parts of the country that will remain accessible, according to Biden administration officials.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona Republican House leaders oppose Biden’s Grand Canyon monument designation