The hunt for fuel:

With minimal public notice and no formal environmental review, the Forest Service has approved a permit allowing a British mining company to explore for uranium just outside Grand Canyon National Park, less than three miles from a popular lookout over the canyon’s southern rim.

If the exploration finds rich uranium deposits, it could lead to the first mines near the canyon since the price of uranium ore plummeted nearly two decades ago. A sharp increase in uranium prices over the past three years has led individuals to stake thousands of mining claims in the Southwest, including more than 1,000 in the Kaibab National Forest, near the Grand Canyon.

To drill exploratory wells on the claims in the Kaibab forest requires Forest Service approval. Vane Minerals, the British company, received such approval for seven sites in December.

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Just the begining:

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors in Coconino County, Ariz., voted unanimously to try to block any potential uranium mines. …

Knowledge of the cancers suffered by former uranium workers and their families on a nearby Navajo reservation, worries about uranium-laden trucks and trains on roads and concern about contamination of the aquifers and streams in arid northern Arizona were also factors in the vote, Ms. Hill said. …

Bill Hedden, the executive director of the Grand Canyon Trust, said the approvals were the first indications that a new generation of uranium mines might spring up on the Colorado Plateau near the canyon, an area peppered with uranium-rich geological formations called breccia pipes.

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