House Funding Bill Reverses Policy to Protect Grand Canyon

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   July 7, 2011
Contact:   Craig Obey, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, National Parks Conservation Association, (202) 454-3392 or cobey@npca.org
Jeff Billington, Senior Media Relations Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, (202) 419-3717 or jbillington@npca.org


House Funding Bill Reverses Policy to Protect Grand Canyon

Rider on Interior Appropriations Would Severely Degrade National Park, Reduce Overall National Park Funding

Statement by NPCA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Craig Obey

“Today, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee unveiled legislation that is a direct assault on the preservation of Grand Canyon National Park and the Colorado River. The bill includes a rider to prevent a much-needed temporary moratorium that protects Grand Canyon National Park and the Colorado River from contamination by uranium mining.

“The moratorium recently announced by Interior Secretary Salazar protects one million acres of federal lands around the Grand Canyon from uranium mining.  This decision ensures future generations will be able to enjoy a Grand Canyon unmarred from this development, and a Colorado River that has a fragile ecology is protected. The House rider would overturn this important decision.

“By keeping this beloved national park unspoiled by inappropriate development, the moratorium allows the Grand Canyon to continue to be a major economic engine for Arizona and across the region, estimated in a Northern Arizona University study as being responsible for bringing $687 million in revenue to the region and creating more than 12,000 full-time jobs. And, in addition to securing the Grand Canyon’s natural beauty and its place as an economic jewel, this moratorium will also prevent further infiltration of dangerous contaminants, including uranium itself, into the Colorado River, which supplies drinking water to 25 million people.

“Proposed funding under the bill is also worrisome.  The overall funding level in the Interior appropriations bill is fundamentally insufficient to meet many basic conservation needs. In relative terms, the Interior bill cuts National Park Service operations funding far less than many other programs, and it is clear the subcommittee did its best to protect this fundamentally important area.  Nonetheless, the $18 million in operational cuts from FY 2010 levels would mark the second consecutive year of reductions in the NPS operating account—unprecedented in post-World War II history—beginning a slow but steady return to the crisis days the parks experienced only a few short years ago.

“That cut, together with the virtual eradication of the Land and Water Conservation fund and an appropriation for construction more than 30 percent below the level the Park Service received in FY 2010 means that overall funding for National Park Service programs would be, in real terms, $480 million below FY 2002.

“For all of these reasons, National Parks Conservation Association must oppose this bill.”

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