THE BLOG
11/17/2011 03:53 pm ET | Updated Jan 17, 2012

Save the Grand Canyon

"They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot."

Well, that's almost right. They don't want to pave paradise. They want to mine it.

Here are two phrases that you probably never expected to see in the same sentence: "the Grand Canyon" and "uranium mines."

Two years ago, the Obama Administration realized that new uranium mining in Arizona could destroy the Grand Canyon, and the Colorado River flowing through it. So it issued a proposed rule to prevent that. The rule would prevent uranium mining in an area equivalent to forty miles long and forty miles wide, which is smaller than the Grand Canyon itself.

380,000 people submitted comments to the Obama Administration. Well over 90 percent of the comments were in favor of the proposed rule.

We're talking about the Grand Canyon here. One of the Wonders of the World. Seventeen million years old. Five million visitors a year.

And the Colorado River. Ten million people use it for recreation each year. It provides water to millions of people.

But the mining companies don't care. They want to build a mine wherever they want. And there are Members of Congress who want whatever the mining companies want.

So they introduced H.R. 3155, which would handcuff the Obama Administration, and let the uranium miners run wild. And now the battle is joined.

Here is the worst part. It's not like anyone has to guess how this story ends. There already is a uranium mine near the Colorado River, upstream in Utah. That mine has produced 16 million tons of radioactive debris. The taxpayers are spending $720 million to move that radioactive debris away from the river.

Can't we learn from our mistakes? Or at least avoid bigger ones? "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?"

Arizona's Congressman Raul Grijalva knows what we've got, and he doesn't want it gone. He is leading the fight against H.R. 3155. At a hearing a week ago, he systematically laid out the arguments in favor of protecting the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. And he exposed the fact that one witness who claimed to be an objective scientist stands to make a fortune if the mining goes ahead.

We have to do something about this. Help save the Grand Canyon. Sign Rep. Grijalva's petition; click here. So that the Grand Canyon can survive -- for the next 17 million years.

Courage,

Alan Grayson

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swinging hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

They took all the trees and put 'em in a tree museum
And then they charged all the people twenty-five bucks just to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot


Joni Mitchell, "Big Yellow Taxi" (1970)