By Lauren Pagel
October 12, 2011
Members of the House and Senate from Utah and Arizona introduced legislation today in an attempt to stop the Obama administration from withdrawing 1 million acres of national forests around the Grand Canyon from mining. Without the withdrawal, the lands around the Canyon are under threat from 30 uranium mines. The withdrawal is widely supported, with 300,000 members of the public commenting in support of the ban.
Uranium mining is governed by a patchwork of federal and state laws, including partial regulation under the 1872 Mining Law, an archaic statute that considers mining to be the highest and best use of the federal land. Uranium mines pose threats to public health and water from radioactive wastes, and can have serious impacts on sensitive ecosystems. Given the importance of the Colorado River and the drinking water it provides to millions, uranium mining in the area is too much of a risk.
October 11, 2011
Good news. The EPA is considering adding phosphate mines to the list of industries that must report the amount of toxic pollution they release into air, water and land. What? They don’t do this already? No. And, they should.
Phosphate mines are responsible for large releases of selenium, which is harmful to wildlife, livestock, fisheries, and public health.
October 7, 2011
Yesterday I attended a hearing of the Senate's Environment and Public Works subcommittee on Children's Health and Environmental Responsibility. The topic concerned the federal government's work cleaning up the contamination from legacy uranium mining and milling operations. The uranium legacy sites are a lasting reminder of our nation's Cold War efforts to build atomic weapons stockpiles in our arms race against the Soviet Union.
Chairman Tom Udall (D-NM) recalled during his opening statement the tragedy from the Church Rock uranium mill spill in 1979 when a tailings pond breached its dam spilling 1100 tons of radioactive mill waste and 93 million gallons of mine effluent in to the Puerco River. I had never heard of this event. I knew about Three Mile Island that happened the same year. I even remember Chernobyl. But Church Rock, second only to Chernobyl in terms of magnitude, occurred on Navajo lands and has never received the publicity of those other events.
October 5, 2011
Leaders of 52 national and state organizations, including Earthworks, are demanding that the so-called Super Congress make elimination of government handouts to the oil, coal and gas industries a central part of the deficit reduction plan the panel is to present to the full Congress next month.
Eliminating subsidies to the fossil fuels industry could reduce the national debt by $122 billion over ten years while bettering the environment and public health for America’s families, the groups asserted:
By Lauren Pagel
October 5, 2011
Last month, the Wall Street Journal editorialized in favor of uranium mining around the Grand Canyon, criticizing the Obama administration for favoring a 20-year withdrawal that would put some of the forests around the Canyon off limits to mineral development.
The editors fell blindly into the false choice of jobs versus the environment, and grossly understated the potential impacts 30 uranium mines could have on such a sensitive ecosystem.