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GOP, Dems fight over monument designation plan

Republicans and Democrats are battling over President Joe Biden’s backed plan to build a national monument around the Grand Canyon, which Republicans say will sap economic opportunities.

On Monday afternoon, Republicans met in Kingman to hear the public’s views on a proposal sought by tribes in Arizona, hosted by Senator Sonny Borrelli (R, City of Lake Havasu) and House Leo Biacicucci. Rep. (Republican, City of Lake Havasu) said it came from Mojave County voters. Not supported.

Approximately one million acres of land around the Grand Canyon will be“Baji Nuwavjo Ita Kukuveni Grand Canyon National Monument” It would severely restrict activities permitted on the land, such as uranium mining. This is supported by tribal communities, but Republicans fear it will hurt Arizona’s economy.

Most of the proposed memorial will be in Coconino County, and most will be in Mojave County.

The idea of ​​federal excesses and “land grabs” is a common concern for Republicans.

There was some confusion as to whether the proposed monument would take private land and make it federal land. One speaker said private land was included in a recent map showing the planned site for the monument, which was also pointed out by Republican lawmakers.

Senator David Gowan (R-Sierra Vista) has proposed that Arizona join a lawsuit filed in Utah regarding increasing the amount of state land designated as private land.

Havasupai Tribal Council leader Carletta Tiluci said it did not include any private property. “It seems like a big misunderstanding of what we are I’m trying to do it here,” she said.

The 13 Arizona tribes that originally inhabited the land support the monument’s designation.

President Joe Biden arrives on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington DC on August 7, 2023 after spending the weekend in Wilmington, Delta. President Biden is scheduled to address near the Grand Canyon on August 8, and many expect him to announce the creation of a national monument around this natural wonder. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Martin)

Biden is scheduled to speak near the Grand Canyon on Tuesday, and many expect him to announce the creation of the national monument.

Democrats called the hearings a preemptive “hoax” for the president and criticized the Republicans for their haste in scheduling the hearings. Rep. Lydia Hernandez (D-Phoenix) said in a news release Monday ahead of the hearings that Democrats learned about the hearings on Friday and weren’t given enough time to plan a trip to Kingman. .

Legislative Democrats refused to attend and issued a news release before the hearing to express their protest.

“This is a highly unusual and partisan way of running a government that is inconsistent with Democratic values ​​and our commitment to delivering real results for voters,” Hernandez said in a statement.

Congressman Stacy Traverse, D-Tempe. Stephanie Stahl-Hamilton, Democrat, Tucson. Senators Priya Sundareshan (D-Tucson) and Brian Fernandez (D-Yuma) were exempt. Stahl Hamilton and Sundareshan issued statements against the hearing in the release.

“After the longest legislative session in state history, it’s a shame that Republicans have not learned the benefits of bipartisanship,” Sundareshan said in a statement.

Republicans took issue with the fact that Democrats did not attend. Borrelli said 16 Republicans on the committee were notified of the hearings at the same time as the Democrats and noted that they attended.

Grand Canyon, National Monument, Biden
Senator Sonny Borrelli, Republican City of Lake Havasu

“When you talk about the need for bipartisanship, the need for communication, the need to remove political biases and barriers, well, guess what, they talk, but they don’t really walk the road. I guess,” said Borrelli.

Biacicucci conceded that the meeting had been short notice, but said it was “very important” for lawmakers to have their views on the memorial site on record.

“The public comment period was a joke, a total joke,” said Senator Sine Carr (R-Buckeye), referring to the federal government’s public comment period.

The hearings were dominated by public testimony from local residents opposing the establishment of the national monument and testimony from Republican committees criticizing the Biden administration.

“We don’t see the whole thing as a big cultural heritage site,” said Travis Lingenfelter, Mojave County Superintendent. He added that Mojave County has been ignored in a “rogue” process.

No tribal or federal representatives spoke at the hearing.

But Jack Erhardt, a Democrat and former Mojave County Supervisory Commission candidate, testified before the commission, noting that a coalition of Arizona Indian tribes united and called for a monument to stop uranium mining. .

“This is not like a large-scale land grab, nor is it a conspiracy theory. To put it into perspective, the seven major tribes simply want to have a place they consider sacred and protected.” You have to catch it, that’s all,” Ehrhardt said. . “It’s not meant to be blown up.”

Other local government officials, including Lake Havasu City Councilman Nancy Campbell, Mojave County Supervisor Hildy Angius, and Colorado Mayor Howard Ream, spoke out against the national monument and how the federal government is addressing the issue. He said he had sought public opinion.

US Congressman Paul Gossar (Republican Bullhead City) was represented by District Commissioner Penny Pugh. He said the United States would have to go to China or Russia for uranium if the monument’s designation passed. She also said Gosar would work with other Republican lawmakers to block the designation of the new monument.

The designation of the monument took years. It was considered under President Barack Obama’s administration and was the subject of a bill by US Congressman Ra.úl Grijalva, D-Tucson.

The moratorium on new mining applications expires in 2032.

Rep. Cory McGarr (R-Tucson) theorized that Hunter Biden (or someone like him) was behind the deal and making money off it. It has nothing to do with the environment or cultural land, he said.

Lingenfelter said the tribal lore about cancer from uranium-contaminated water was a message they were using to “instill fear” and that “there is no threat to the groundwater supply there.”

Tiluci, Grand Canyon, National Monument, Biden
Havasupai Tribal Council Leader Carletta Tiluci (Photo courtesy of First Things First)

Tiluci said the tribe is not in danger of contaminating the waters on the Grand Canyon’s rim. “These companies come in, claim stakes, mine uranium, exit, and don’t take responsibility for cleanup,” she said. “My family is still suffering from cancer and dying of it.

At the end of the conference, Republican lawmakers unanimously passed a motion against the proposal.

They don’t have the power to block the nomination of Mr. Biden, but the federal government can, if it has enough support.

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