EARTHWORKS

Conflict at the Canyon

Conflict at the Canyon
Uranium mining in the Grand Canyon

Published: June 13, 2011

By: Dusty Horwitt, Lauren Pagel

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From the report:

The Obama administration is expected to announce soon whether it will lift a two-year-old moratorium on new uranium mining claims on 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon. But the government's decision could be swayed by the analysis of a corporate mining consultant who stands to reap hundreds of thousands of dollars if the moratorium is lifted.

The administration is considering an environmental impact study, issued Feb. 18 by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, that effectively dismisses the threat of contamination by uranium mining activity near the Colorado River, which flows through the Canyon. Some 26 million Americans depend on the Colorado River for drinking water.

In downplaying risks to the Colorado River, BLM relied heavily on research by Karen J. Wenrich, a prominent Golden, Colo., based-geologist and uranium mining industry consultant who serves on the advisory board of American Energy Fields, a uranium mining company based in Apache Junction, Ariz. Yet BLM did not disclose that Wenrich and her client American Energy Fields have a direct financial stake in the administration's decision on lifting the moratorium.

Three days prior to release of the BLM study, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, American Energy Fields consummated a deal to purchase 61 mining claims from Wenrich for $225,000. The purchase is contingent on an administration decision to open the million-acre area to new claims.

Tagged with: withdrawal, uranium, obama, grand canyon, blm

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