Congress could block mining move

Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) successfully included two amendments this week to the recently approved H.R. 3055, the House of Representatives appropriations package for environmental and other agencies. One blocks implementation of a Trump executive order that could make it easier to mine uranium near the Grand Canyon and elsewhere in the U.S.; the other prevents the Department of the Interior from transferring jurisdiction over federal public lands to the Department of Homeland Security for the purposes of wall-building or other border enforcement.

Grijalva’s amendment regarding uranium mining, co-offered by Committee Vice Chair Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Subcommittee Chair Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), states that no funds may be used to treat uranium as a “critical mineral” for the purposes of expedited permitting, or to offer other unnecessary giveaways to uranium mining companies under the administration’s critical mineral strategy, according to a press release from the organization called Natural Resources Committee Democrats.

H.R. 3055 includes five previously freestanding appropriations bills. Together, the package provides crucial funding for the Department of the Interior and to conservation and science programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which President Trump’s budget proposal nearly eliminates, the group claims. The package also funds the departments of Commerce, Justice, Agriculture, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs, in addition to other related programs and agencies.

“I’m thankful for the work that the Appropriations Committee, led by Chair Nita Lowey and subcommittee Chair Betty McCollum, did to pass today’s bills in a way that elevates environmental issues and reflects the American people’s priorities,” Grijalva said June 25. “A Democratic House majority means conservation and science get the funding they need, not starvation budgets and Republican excuses about keeping Big Oil happy. What a government chooses to support should reflect what the people value, and these bills reflect the public demand for action on climate change and strong conservation of our natural resources. These bills, and my amendments, put families and the environment first, and that’s what a responsible Congress should do.”