FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A Virginia congressman failed Tuesday to gain enough support to halt a colleague's plan to reopen 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon to new mining claims.
The Interior Department enacted a temporary ban on the filing of new claims two years ago while it studies whether the land should be protected for a longer period.
Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona added a rider to an Interior appropriations bill to end the ban. He says mining can stimulate the economy without harming the canyon.
Democratic Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia unsuccessfully tried to strike the rider during a mark-up of the bill in the House Appropriations Committee.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he prefers a 20-year moratorium on new mining claims among the options in an environmental assessment.