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Uranium Miners Pushed Hard in US

Bears Ears National Monument shrunk for exploitation

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robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
1 14 Jan 2018
The Trump administration is set to shrink Bears Ears by 85 percent next month, potentially opening more than a million acres to mining, drilling and other industrial activity. But even as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke declared last month that “there is no mine within Bears Ears,” there were more than 300 uranium mining claims inside the monument, according to data from Utah’s Bureau of Land Management office that was reviewed by The New York Times.

The vast majority of those claims fall neatly outside the new boundaries of Bears Ears set by the administration. And an examination of local B.L.M. records, including those not yet entered into the agency’s land and mineral use authorizations database, shows that about a third of the claims are linked to Energy Fuels, a Canadian uranium producer. Energy Fuels also owns the Grand Canyon mine, where groundwater has already flooded the main shaft.

Energy Fuels, together with other mining groups, lobbied extensively for a reduction of Bears Ears, preparing maps that marked the areas it wanted removed from the monument and distributing them during a visit to the monument by Mr. Zinke in May.

The Uranium Producers of America, an industry group, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw regulations proposed by the Obama administration to strengthen groundwater protections at uranium mines. Mining groups have also waged a six-year legal battle against a moratorium on new uranium mining on more than a million acres of land adjacent to the Grand Canyon.

For the Navajo, the drive for new mines is a painful flashback.

“Back then, we didn’t know it was dangerous — nobody told us,” Mr. Holiday said, as he pointed to the gashes of discolored rocks that mark where the old uranium mines cut into the region’s mesas. “Now they know. They know.”

Supporters of the mining say that a revival of domestic uranium production, which has declined by 90 percent since 1980 amid slumping prices and foreign competition, will make the United States a larger player in the global uranium market.

It would expand the country’s energy independence, they say, and give a lift to nuclear power, still a pillar of carbon-free power generation. Canada, Kazakhstan, Australia, Russia and a few other countries now supply most of America’s nuclear fuel.

A notable presence on Mr. Zinke’s trip was Energy Fuels, the Canadian uranium producer. Company executives openly lobbied for shrinking Bears Ears’ borders, handing out the map that marked the pockets the company wanted removed: areas adjacent to its White Mesa Mill, just to the east of the monument, and its Daneros Mine, which it is developing just to the west.

“They wanted to talk to anyone who’d listen,” said Commissioner Phil Lyman of San Juan County, Utah, a Republican who participated in the tour and is sympathetic to Energy Fuels’ position. “They were there representing their business interest.”

Curtis Moore, an Energy Fuels spokesman, said the company had played only a small part in the decision to shrink Bears Ears. The company proposed scaling back the monument by just 2.5 percent, he said, and was prepared to support a ban within the rest of the original boundaries.

Yet two weeks after Mr. Zinke’s visit, Energy Fuels wrote to the Interior Department arguing there were many other known uranium deposits within Bears Ears “that could provide valuable energy and mineral resources in the future” and urging the department to shrink the monument away from any “existing or future operations.”

A bill introduced last month by Representative John Curtis, Republican of Utah, would codify Mr. Trump’s cuts to the monument while banning further drilling or mining within the original boundaries. But environmental groups say the bill has little chance of passing at all, let alone before the monument is scaled back next month.

“Come February, anyone can place a mining claim on the land,” said Greg Zimmerman, deputy director at the Center for Western Priorities, a conservation group.

The long and controversial history of uranium mining in Australia

robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
2 24 Jan 2018

On December 4, President Trump slashed the size of two national monuments in Utah—Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears—by almost two million acres. The decision marks the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history.

Within hours, Earthjustice sued over the decision to shrink Grand Staircase, charging that the president violated the 1906 Antiquities Act by stripping monument protections from this national treasure.

Days later, we filed a second lawsuit on similar grounds to protect Bears Ears, following in the footsteps of several Native American tribes who have already sued the president.

What’s at stake in this legal battle?

If we lose, President Trump’s actions will stand, and Bears Ears and Grand Staircase will be shells of the monuments they once were. And the precedent it would create could threaten other national monuments. The stakes are pretty high here.

Most presidents’ public lands policy involves protecting and stewarding the most valuable lands. Trump’s public lands policy is, “How can I maximize industry profit from our public lands?” His public lands policy is essentially the agenda of the fossil fuel industry, the mining industry and several other industries that are a lot more focused on their own profits than on the public good. These public lands belong to every American, and they were passed down to us, intact and protected, by our ancestors. The question is, are we going to pass them on that way to our children and our children’s children, or are we not?