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S. 1690 (112th): Northern Arizona Mining Continuity Act of 2011

The text of the bill below is as of Oct 12, 2011 (Introduced).



1st Session

S. 1690


October 12, 2011

(for himself, Mr. Kyl, Mr. Hatch, Mr. Lee, and Mr. Barrasso) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


To preserve the multiple use land management policy in the State of Arizona, and for other purposes.


Short title

This Act may be cited as the Northern Arizona Mining Continuity Act of 2011.



Congress finds that—


over the past 20 years, a form of low-impact, safe, and environmentally responsible underground breccia pipe uranium mining has been conducted in northern Arizona, particularly in an area located beyond the northern boundaries of the Grand Canyon National Park known as the Arizona Strip;


according to United States Geological Survey estimates, the Arizona Strip—


has the potential of becoming the second most important uranium-producing region in the United States; and


contains approximately 375,000,000 pounds of high-grade uranium ore with the energy equivalent of 13,000,000,000 barrels of oil, which is approximately the quantity of recoverable oil originally found in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska;


in 1984, during the last uranium boom, Congress enacted the Arizona Wilderness Act of 1984 (16 U.S.C. 1132 note; Public Law 98–406), which—


is recognized as a historic compromise between environmental and uranium mining interests; and


affirmed the continued multiple use management of Federal land on the Arizona Strip that was not designated as wilderness by that Act;


continued development of resources on the Arizona Strip would significantly boost economic growth in the area, provide for permanent well-paying jobs, and serve as a source of revenue to the Federal Government and State and local governments;


on July 21, 2009, the Department of the Interior published a notice entitled Notice of Proposed Withdrawal and Opportunity for Public Meeting; Arizona (74 Fed. Reg. 35887), which—


proposed the withdrawal of approximately 1,000,000 acres of Federal locatable minerals in northern Arizona from the location of new mining claims over concerns that the uranium mining could impact the Grand Canyon watershed; and


made no mention of the Arizona Wilderness Act of 1984 (16 U.S.C. 1132 note; Public Law 98–406) or the resource management plans that have governed mineral resource development on the Arizona Strip; and


the February 2011 Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed withdrawal determined there is no conclusive evidence from well and spring sampling data that modern-day breccia pipe uranium mining operations in the northern portion of the Grand Canyon region has impacted the chemical quality of groundwater in the regional-aquifer.


Prohibition of proposed mining withdrawal without congressional approval


In general

Except by express authorization by Congress referencing this section and notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of the Interior shall not extend, renew, or issue a notice of segregation or withdrawal of the public land and National Forest System land (including a portion of the land) described in Public Land Order 7773 (76 Fed. Reg. 37826 (June 28, 2011)).


Effect of notice

Any notice of segregation or withdrawal of the land described in subsection (a) shall have no legal effect.