"In a modest victory for environmentalists, the Obama administration said Monday that it was designating nearly one million acres of Arizona land near the Grand Canyon off limits to new uranium mining claims for two years.
In a statement, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said his department was acting 'to ensure we are developing our nation's resources in a way that protects local communities, treasured landscapes and our watersheds.'
Environmental groups like the nonprofit Grand Canyon Trust in Flagstaff, Ariz., have argued that extensive mining operations could contaminate the watershed around the canyon, particularly streams that flow directly into the canyon or into the Colorado River.
Last year the House Natural Resources Committee voted to put the acreage off limits to new mining claims. But the Bush administration disputed the committee's authority and said it would continue to leave the lands open to new claims."