June 20, 2011
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) released the following statement after Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a six month extension of a ban on uranium mining outside the borders of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
“Today’s announcement by the Obama Administration plunges America even deeper into the depths of dependence on foreign sources of energy. Under the guise of protecting the Grand Canyon, one of our Nation’s great national treasures that we all agree should be preserved, this Administration will send thousands of jobs overseas by extending the moratorium on the mining of 40 percent of America’s uranium. Studies have shown that uranium mining outside the park’s border will have negligible environmental impacts and it appears the Administration is basing this decision on politics instead of science.
“The United States currently imports over 90 percent of its uranium and the Obama Administration is actively moving the county in the wrong direction by increasing our dependence on foreign supplies. Furthermore, if President Obama wants to achieve a clean energy future, he must stop blocking efforts to expand domestic uranium production, which is necessary for clean, American-made nuclear energy. It’s unfortunate that the President has chosen to use the Grand Canyon as a political pawn to block American job creation and the future of one of America’s clean energy sources.”
In July, 2009 the Obama Administration blocked new uranium mining for two years on a million acres of land in Arizona.
In April 2011, the Arizona Geological Survey wrote a letter to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer with a report to reassure her that uranium mining near the Grand Canyon would be safe. Below are excerpts from the letter:
- “We conclude that even the most implausible accident would increase the amount of uranium in the Colorado River by an amount that is undetectable over amounts of uranium that are normally carried by the river from erosion of geologic deposits.”
- “Even if the entire annual uranium production from an operating mine were somehow implausibly dumped into the river, the resulting increase in uranium concentration in river water would increase from 4.0 to 12.8 parts per billion (ppb) for one year, which is still far below the 30 ppb EPA Maximum Contaminant Level.”
- “We believe the fears of uranium contamination of the Colorado River from mining accidents are minor and transitory compared to the amounts of uranium that are naturally and continually eroded into the river.”
Printable PDF of this document