(The Center Square)— President Joe Biden proclaimed a new monument near the Grand Canyon, a move that will stop proposed uranium mining in the area.
The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument, in Arizona will encompass “nearly 1 million acres” around the famous park, according to the White House. Nearby tribes, such as Hopi and Havasupai, expressed support for a monument to be designated in the area over concerns about how mining could impact water resources and conservation.
“Help right the wrongs of the past and conserve this land,” Biden said at the remote Red Butte Airfield on Tuesday, making reference to the struggles tribes in the Southwest have faced when it comes to preserving land they’re originally from.
“America’s natural wonders are central to our heritage and our identity of our nation,” he said.
“Today marks a historic step in preserving the majesty of this place,” he later added.
The president also focused on the intersection between climate change and economic policy, part of what the White House is dubbing “Bidenomics.”
Some conservatives have criticized the move by Biden as poor energy policy. Uranium is most commonly used for nuclear power.
“As the President is celebrating his inflationary spending agenda and making it harder to produce safe and carbon-free nuclear energy, Arizonans are paying the price,” Stephen Shadegg, state director for Americans for Prosperity-Arizona, said in a news release.
Republicans pre-empted Biden’s visit on Monday with a hearing about how monument status would permanently withdraw 1.1 million acres of U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land from economic production like uranium mining, cattle grazing and other activies in the area, in addition to limiting opportunities for hunting, fishing and recreation.
“Mohave County doesn’t want this monument,” said House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci, R-Lake Havasu City, in a news release.
They claimed the move would likely violate the Statehood Enabling Act.
Democrats on the GOP-led committees gathered in Kingman Monday afternoon declined to attend, calling the hearing a “sham.”
In addition to the proclamation, the administration said in a release that they would be investing $44 million to “strengthen climate resilience” at National Parks.