|The shuttered Pinenut uranium mine, bottom, near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.|
MONUMENT VALLEY, Utah — Garry Holiday grew up among the abandoned mines that dot the Navajo Nation’s red landscape, remnants of a time when uranium helped cement America’s status as a nuclear superpower and fueled its nuclear energy program.
It left a toxic legacy. All but a few of the 500 abandoned mines still await cleanup. Mining tainted the local groundwater. Mr. Holiday’s father succumbed to respiratory disease after years of hacking the ore from the earth.
But now, emboldened by the Trump administration’s embrace of corporate interests, the uranium mining industry is renewing a push into the areas adjacent to Mr. Holiday’s Navajo Nation home: the Grand Canyon watershed to the west, where a new uranium mine is preparing to open, and the Bears Ears National Monument to the north.
The Trump administration is set to shrink Bears Ears by 85 percent next month, potentially opening more than a million acres to mining, drilling and other industrial activity. But even as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke declared last month that “there is no mine within Bears Ears,” there were more than 300 uranium mining claims inside the monument, according to data from Utah’s Bureau of Land Management office that was reviewed by The New York Times.