Sydney Hay, president of the Arizona Mining Association, said decisions by the federal government and tribes to prohibit mining in northern Arizona means less high-paying jobs. She said it also limits the state's ability to provide low-cost energy to its citizens.
She called decisions by the Hualapai, Navajo, Havasupai and Hopi tribes to ban uranium mining shortsighted.
"It's not your grandfather's mining industry anymore," she said. "There are some legacy sites that have given uranium mining a bad name, but the way to fix that is to clean up those legacy sites."
Tribal members don't see that happening and say taking the companies' word would be difficult.Both the Navajo Nation and the Hopi tribe have sued or threatened to over cleanup of uranium and other radioactive waste from their land near Tuba City, and other tribes have cited health effects from breathing in dust in areas where uranium was mined, groundwater contamination and livestock born with mutations. "I think we have good reason to ignore corporate America, the mining companies," said Manny Pino, a member of Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico who teaches American Indian studies at Scottsdale Community College.