Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), a lawmaker leading efforts to privatize and mine public lands across the West, spoke last week at the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas. ThinkProgress caught up with Bishop after his speech.
After he told us that national parks are unconstitutional, we asked about Republican efforts to develop the certain national parks for mineral extraction. Bishop initially laughed off the idea, claiming that no one in Congress is looking to drill in National Parks (in fact, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has called for drilling in the Everglades). Besides, he said, national parks aren’t “money makers.”
So, we asked about legislation by Arizona Republicans to open up the area around the Grand Canyon for uranium mining. Bishop said that the proposed mining area is only the “size of the state of New Jersey,” and it would have “no impact” on the environment or tourism:
FANG: Congressman, what do you think about some National Parks that could be “money makers,” like the Grand Canyon, where they could be doing uranium mining and some other types of mineral mining.
BISHOP: You have to realize, the Arizona strip that they’re talking about where they could do mining is the size of the state of New Jersey. So there’s going to be no mining anywhere near the size of the Grand Canyon. So in fact that land was supposed to be set aside [inaudible] for mining. Whether we mine or not will have no impact on the Grand Canyon water or tourism that happens to be there.
As ThinkProgress has detailed, a measure to open up the area around Grand Canyon for uranium mining has been proposed by members of Congress like Bishop, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Mining lobbyists have lined up to push for the effort, but it appears to be losing traction.
Earlier this week, the Bureau of Land Management issued a report that rejects the idea of mining in the Grand Canyon area. A number of previous reports have pointed out that uranium mining in the area could damage drinking water by contaminating natural springs and aquifers.