IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
October 12, 2011
Mr. McCain (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.
This Act may be cited as
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
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
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
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.