Billionaire Koch brothers allegedly fund pro-uranium mining plans in Grand Canyon – report

Overall view from the south Rim of the Grand Canyon near Tusayan, Arizona © Charles Platiau
Moguls Charles and David Koch are reportedly funding an Arizona-based company that's been pushing against a plan to make Grand Canyon area a natural monument with no uranium mining allowed.

Those who are in favor of the plan include the majority of local residents, environmental groups and Native American tribes.

In January, a survey showed that over 80 percent of Arizonans supported the proposal, and nearly half of the population specifically said that more should be done to protect the Grand Canyon and the 7,000 square kilometers around it.

However, a group of Republicans and a big not-for-profit company are battling the proposal, and their steps seem to be funded by the Koch brothers, according to Greg Zimmerman from the Center for Western Priorities, a conservation organization.

As Zimmerman told the Phoenix New Times, it was all started by a recent report he read. The document was compiled by the Arizona Chamber Foundation and another Arizona-based group, the Prosper Foundation, and branded the conservation plan a “monumental mistake.”

Zimmerman wanted to know more about the mysterious Prosper Foundation, so he looked through its 990 tax forms.

It turned out that in 2013-14, the Prosper Foundation got over $1.5 million, which is some 80 percent of its budget, from a group called American Encore, led by Sean Noble, a political consultant connected to the billionaire Koch brothers.

The organization was founded by Kirk Adams, called by LA Times one of the “early architects of the Koch network of nonprofits.”

Zimmerman also found out that a donor linked to the Koch brothers was channeling his money into the Prosper Foundation.

To cut a long story short, it is alleged that money from the large Koch Donor Network travels to American Encore and then to the Prosper Foundation, which in turn is helping to lead the campaign against making the Grand Canyon a national monument.

“I wish I could say I was surprised by this, but honestly I wasn’t. We know that these anti-public land efforts have a lot of money behind them,” Zimmerman said. "It’s not surprising to learn that the Koch brothers and other wealthy, ultra-conservative industrialists are funding these efforts to roll back conservation measures across the American west,” he added, as quoted by The Guardian.

“The Grand Canyon and the lands around the Grand Canyon are sacred – I think all Americans recognize that. It’s truly an incredible landscape, and the threat of uranium mining around the Grand Canyon poses a risk,” Zimmerman said.

The Grand Canyon represents a unique combination of geologic color and amazing erosional forms. The canyon is 446 km long and 29 km wide, overwhelming the public with its size and beauty.