Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the U.S. would enact a twenty-year ban on uranium mining claims near the Grand Canyon. The ban affects one million acres by the Grand Canyon. The current administration had been issuing temporary bans since entering office, but today marks a significant departure from past bans, by making this one a twenty year one. The ban sets up a battle between the White House and Congressional Republicans, and the mining industry lobby, that wants all bans to be dropped. The Grand Canyon attracts more than 4 million visitors a year and generates an estimated $3.5 billion in economic activity, Salazar said. Millions of Americans living in cities such as Phoenix and Los Angeles rely on the Colorado River for clean drinking water. Conservation groups call the 20-year ban a crucial protection for an American icon. The mining industry and some Republican members of Congress say it is detrimental to Arizona’s economy and the nation’s energy independence. Republican members of Arizona’s congressional delegation have lambasted temporary bans imposed by Salazar in 2009 and again last year. They say a permanent ban on the filing of new mining claims would eliminate hundreds of jobs and unravel decades of responsible resource development. The Bush administration had opened up the land to new mining claims. Salazar reversed the Bush policy in 2009 and called for a two-year moratorium on new mining claims around the canyon. He followed up with a six-month extension last year. Supporters of the ban say any increase in mining jobs is not worth risks to the Colorado River, lands considered sacred by American Indian tribes or wildlife habitat. A mining mishap also could be disastrous for tourism in one of the nation’s most-visited parks.