Energy & Environment

Biden vows reversal as Trump eyes mining near Grand Canyon, Bristol Bay

Former Vice President Joe Biden this weekend announced he would shut down a number of controversial projects being considered by the Trump administration, including mining near the Grand Canyon and Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

“I can’t believe I have to say this, but we can’t let Donald Trump open up the Grand Canyon for uranium mining,” Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, tweeted late Friday.

Biden later made similar comments on Trump’s consideration of the Pebble Mine, a project that was nixed under the Obama administration over environmental concerns.

“Bristol Bay has been foundational to the way of life of Alaska Natives for countless generations, provides incredible joy for recreational anglers from across the country, and is an economic powerhouse that supplies half of the world’s wild sockeye salmon. It is no place for a mine,” Biden wrote in a statement.

Biden’s comments come as the Trump administration has voiced openness to mining projects in both famed locations.

In 2012, the Obama administration placed a 20-year uranium mining moratorium on some 1 million acres of land surrounding the Grand Canyon.

But the Trump administration has been active in promoting domestic uranium mining, arguing the U.S. needs a reliable domestic source to make nuclear fuel and limit China and Russia’s influence in the nuclear power market.

The White House has already deemed uranium a critical mineral for national security purposes, while its Nuclear Fuels Working Group proposed the creation of a national uranium reserve. 

That would be a help to the U.S. uranium mining industry, which has seen prices for its product largely fall over the last decade as the U.S. gets the bulk of its supplies from countries like Canada, Australia and Kazakhstan. 

In Alaska, the Trump administration recently determined the Pebble Mine wouldn’t be a threat to nearby fisheries in the bay.

The project “would not be expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers and result in long-term changes to the health of the commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay,” the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wrote in a July environmental assessment, paving the way to resume the controversial project.

But Trump last week told reporters he planned to review “both sides” of the issue after his son Donald Trump Jr. expressed opposition to the project.

The younger Trump said on Twitter that the headwaters of Bristol Bay and the surrounding fishery “are too unique and fragile to take any chances with.”

Tags 2020 presidential race Biden campaign Bristol Bay Donald Trump Grand Canyon Joe Biden Pebble Mine uranium mining

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