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August 9, 2020

Don’t let Trump Ruin the Grand Canyon (& our Country).

President Trump is using the worst pandemic in a century to weaken our environmental laws without public oversight, and he isn’t sparing the Grand Canyon.” ~ Raúl Grijalva

 

I think the quote above says it all.

And like Joe Biden said in the above tweet, “I can’t believe” that this is something we even need to be talking about.

But alas, here we are. I will openly (and shamefully) admit that I just found out about Trump’s attempts to start mining uranium in Arizona today, but he has actually been trying to get the ball of environmental havoc rolling for a while. 

Now, can someone please explain to me why the hell we should focus taxpayer money there during a pandemic that has left millions of families in financial desolation? 

This quote from AZ Central hit the nail on the damn head: 

“While Americans shelter at home, waiting for the administration to offer a more effective medical response than injecting bleach, an administration advisory group just released a report recommending opening more public lands to uranium extraction.”

He wants to ruin sacred land and spend taxpayer dollars on something that is completely self-serving for an industry that shows no need for help (unlike the struggling families and our hurting planet which, in fact, does need tending to). Plain and simple: there is no new evidence that we need new uranium mining. 

Furthermore, Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club in Arizona, said, “Many families that are living with uranium mining’s toxic legacy are also right now bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the Navajo Nation. Propping up the already languishing uranium mining industry will inevitably further risk public health.”

I could write a novel here, but I think you get the point: This is not good. And of course, Trump is pushing to exclude uranium mines from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which takes away all visibility of what is actually happening to our nation’s land; there is zero public say or oversight.

I am someone who had to Google what NEPA meant to really understand why this mattered. NEPA requires a federal agency to evaluate how a project or proposed action will affect us socially, economically, and environmentally before they are allowed to do anything. The other part of this act (and this is another key point as to why it’s so effed up to remove uranium mining from it) is that we, the public, get to have a say. If the mines are removed from NEPA, we are stripped of our voice, and there is no barrier to protect the land from Trump—a man who doesn’t care about the integrity of our land, let alone our country. 

Even if you haven’t been to the Grand Canyon, and even if you don’t care about politics, you need to care about this.

As I’ve been reading more about the topic, to really make sure I knew where I stood before speaking out, I have been able to glean a rough idea of the opposing arguments:

Trump’s administration wants to create a reserve of uranium and uses the term “domestic production” as a fancy way to package the process. They are pushing to lift the ban on mining public land (the ban was enacted in 2012 under Barack Obama’s presidency) in the name of economic development and job opportunities.

As Joe Biden says in his press release on August 7, the irony of this whole thing is that “This national treasure (Grand Canyon) attracts millions of visitors each year, supporting thousands of jobs for Arizonans and contributing more than $1 billion to the state economy.”

As I said before, I am ashamed that I have not kept up on this enough; I am finding out when we are already in the lion’s den, so to speak; but now that we know, it’s time to start talking about it. 

This isn’t helping our country; it’s a defamation of it.

The whole extraction process is a toxic mess. The chemicals used to mine uranium are toxic; the uranium itself is toxic; the machines and tools even become radioactive and toxic themselves. And, furthermore, the Environment America Research & Policy Center says, “As radioactive elements break down, they produce other elements—including radon, which can cause lung cancer.” This deathly stuff travels through the air, by the way, so the water and air are ruined during the mining process—and after.

As I’ve read even further, I’ve gained more insight into the adverse after-effects the mining from the past still has on the Navajo Nation today. The 500 abandoned mines still show the repercussions of tarnishing the surrounding area’s water supply. The EPA (the United States Environmental Protection Agency) says, “Recent (2020) estimates suggest that approximately 15% of the population on the Navajo Nation still do not have access to piped water to their homes.”

And they don’t just have a lack of piping; they are drinking unregulated water with uranium, bacteria, and fecal coliforms in it. (If you are thinking “fecal coliforms” sounds poop-related…it is.)

Oh, and when I said “surrounding areas,” earlier, I was talking about the water supply for as far as Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. Not to mention the airborne radioactive dust—literally.

Our little brothers and sisters, our children, our loved ones, our friends, each and every one of us, is at risk.

We have to start respecting the homeland we claim to be so proud of. We have to stop arrogant, insensitive, and mindless people/actions from polluting and killing our planet.

We have to speak up—before our voices are silenced. 

Here is a list of petitions you can sign to help protect sacred land, our home, from the gluttonous hands of Trump:

Roots Action

Green Peace

Move On

Grand Canyon Trust

 

Note from the author: If anyone has information as to why drilling for uranium in one of the most beautiful areas of our country, on lands that are sacred to this nation’s original peoples, is of benefit, I’m happy to consider your information. But for now, I’m just angry.

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