Policy Update Jul 17, 2019

Position on H.R. 1373, H.R. 2181 & H.R. 3405

NPCA submitted the following positions to members of the House Committee on Natural Resources ahead of a markup scheduled for July 17, 2019.

H.R. 1373 – Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act: NPCA strongly supports this bill to protect Grand Canyon National Park, its watershed and the water sources vital to the Havasupai people, from the impacts of uranium mining. H.R. 1373 would make permanent the current 20-year ban on uranium mining for one million acres of land neighboring Grand Canyon National Park. This action will preserve for future generations the beauty and health of what is one of America’s most awe-inspiring landscape. Tribal leaders, business owners, local officials and conservation groups all support this commonsense continuation of the temporary mining prohibition that the Department of the Interior recognized as necessary in 2012. While the Grand Canyon is clearly the wrong place to mine for uranium, risking contamination of a national jewel, it is the right place to invest in the booming tourism and recreation industries that employ thousands of Americans and bring hundreds of millions of dollars to rural communities.

H.R. 2181 – Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act: Chaco Culture National Historic Park is a unique landscape that tells the story of one of North America’s oldest and most sophisticated cultures, has an internationally renowned dark sky, and was recognized as a world-class cultural landscape with its designation as a World Heritage Site in 1987. The landscape is sacred ancestral homeland to Pueblo Tribes and is rich in cultural and archeological sites, some still unknown and undiscovered. NPCA strongly supports the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act to withdraw the lands around the historical park, within an approximate ten-mile Protection Zone, from further oil and gas development by the Bureau of Land Management. Withdrawal of over 316,000 acres of oil, natural gas, coal and other minerals owned by the federal government within the proposed Chaco Protection Zone will preserve scared sites of great significance to human history, help address some of the public health concerns of neighboring communities and tribes, and ensure the park’s exceptional resources are protected.

Additionally, H.R. 2181 recognizes the need for additional studies and protective measures to address health, safety and environmental concerns, while calling for an end to the oil and gas industry’s land grab by returning non-producing lands back to the public where they belong. We should not allow our cultural legacy to become an island in a sea of oil and gas development, development whose negative impacts disproportionately impact communities in northern New Mexico.

H.R. 3405 – Removing Uranium from the Critical Minerals List Act: NPCA supports this bill to remove uranium from the Final List of Critical Minerals, a list that this material should have never been on. The List’s corresponding Executive Order (13817) defines a “critical mineral” as either a “non-fuel mineral” or a “mineral material”;1 neither of which define uranium (uranium is defined as a fuel mineral). Some of our most iconic national parks, national monuments and other public lands already feel the impacts of the toxic legacy of uranium mining from the Cold War era. Our domestic minerals strategy should seek more conservation, substitution and recycling, and not further threaten our treasured public lands.