July 20, 2009
Today, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings (WA-04) and National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Ranking Member Rob Bishop (UT-01) criticized the Department of the Interior’s announcement that the Administration will block new uranium mining for two years on one million acres of land in Arizona.
“Once again, the Obama Administration is saying no to American energy and no to American jobs,” said Ranking Member Hastings. “In just six short months, the Administration has blocked new offshore drilling, blocked oil and natural gas leases in Utah, and is now blocking uranium mining in Arizona. Today’s announcement will cost American jobs at a time when unemployment is at a 26-year high and make us more dependent on foreign countries for energy. If the President is serious about reducing carbon emissions, he would support increased American uranium development, which is used to produce clean, carbon-free nuclear energy.”
Last March, Ranking Member Hastings, House Republican Leader John Boehner and nine other Republican members sent a letter (click here to read) to Secretary Ken Salazar requesting the following information before the Administration takes any action to block uranium development:
- How much uranium is contained in these lands and what percent of our domestic high grade uranium is found there?
- How much energy can be created if these deposits were to be extracted?
- What effect would this have on the American energy consumer?
- How much uranium is domestically mined and from what foreign sources do we depend on to meet our uranium needs?
- How close are these deposits to the Grand Canyon itself and to the Park boundary?
- Using best practices, what effect extraction of these uranium deposits would have on the preservation of the Grand Canyon?
To date, the Department of the Interior has not responded to the letter nor provided answers to any of the questions.
Tomorrow, the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee will hold a hearing on legislation introduced by Rep. Raul Grijalva (H.R. 644) that would permanently remove a million acres of land from development of uranium resources. Despite objections raised by Subcommittee Ranking Member Rob Bishop in a July 15th letter (click here to read), Democrats refused to invite an Administration official to testify.
“In light of today’s announcement by Secretary Salazar, it is even more absurd that there will not be a witness from the Administration to testify at tomorrow’s hearing,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Bishop. “Until today, the Administration’s position on this issue was unknown, and I would like to hear the Administration explain before Congress why it is in our country’s best interest to lock up 40 percent of our nation’s domestic uranium while we are importing 90 percent of the uranium we use. We all share the goal of wanting to protect the Grand Canyon, and any mining that will occur will be environmentally safe and well outside the park. It is possible to protect our environment while increasing America’s energy supply.”
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