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Trump is using a pandemic to weaken environmental law. First victim: The Grand Canyon

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SOURCE:  azcentral.com

Opinion: There’s no such thing as a ‘safe’ uranium mine. Yet a new report recommends excluding these mines from public review and comment.

Canyon Mine is a uranium mine located 6 miles southeast of Tusayan on the Kaibab National Forest near the Grand Canyon. (Photo: Mark Henle/The Republic)

by Raúl Grijalva, opinion contributor

President Trump is using the worst pandemic in a century to weaken our environmental laws without public oversight, and he isn’t sparing the Grand Canyon.

While Americans shelter at home, waiting for the administration to offer a more effective medical response than injecting bleach, an administration advisory group just released a report recommending opening more public lands to uranium extraction.

The steps recommended in a new report by the Nuclear Fuel Working Group, an industry-stacked panel the president created through an executive order in July 2019, look a lot like pre-determined conclusions.

One of the most alarming should worry every Arizonan, and frankly every American: excluding uranium mines from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which gives Americans the chance to review and comment on major proposals that impact them.

The report, if it’s implemented, paves the way for dangerous mining of the sort that even industry cheerleaders don’t suggest in public.

Report would give polluters a free pass

This is not alarmism. The report spells it out in black and white when it recommends that federal regulators “consider categorical exclusions for uranium mineral exploration and development activities.” A categorical exclusion is offered only to individual projects determined to have no impact on the environment.

These are sometimes handed out to industry in the guise of streamlining or efficiency — which, under recent Republican administrations, have become code words for giving polluters a free pass.

The Trump administration wants to take advantage of widespread stay-at-home policies to weaken laws that protect us from unchecked pollution. A democratic government puts the people first, and cutting environmental regulations while the people aren’t able to go to a public meeting or make sure their voices are heard is not democratic.

These recommendations are another in a long line of industry giveaways being pushed under cover of pandemic without public scrutiny.

The American people should reject this report and the rigged process used to prepare it. And as a credible new analysis from the Grand Canyon Trust shows us, even if we wanted to take the report seriously, there’s no such thing as a truly “safe” uranium mine.

The Canyon Mine, a few miles from the southern entrance to Grand Canyon National Park, was approved in 1986. It’s never produced any uranium, but it’s been far from silent. Over the past few years, the mine shaft has been flooded with tens of millions of gallons of potentially radioactive water that have had to be pumped out and, in some cases, sprayed as mist into the air.

READ THE REST OF THIS OPINION HERE.

Uranium Mining Claims Near Grand Canyon Could Surge if Supreme Court Reverses Ban

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Source:  Environmental Working Group (EWG)

Contact:
(202) 667-6982
alex@ewg.org
For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
  • Colorado River Drinking Water Source for 40 Million
  • 2018: 831 Active Uranium Mining Claims Near Grand Canyon
  • 2011: Before Ban, 3,500 Claims

WASHINGTON – If the Supreme Court lifts the moratorium on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, the expected surge in active claims would endanger not only a cherished national landmark, but also the drinking water for 40 million Americans, according to the Environmental Working Group and Earthworks.

Between the current leanings of the Supreme Court and the Trump administration being in power, the mining industry clearly sees an opportunity to open up uranium extraction along the canyon rim for the first time in a decade. There are currently fewer than 900 active uranium claims near the canyon, compared to almost 3,500 before the ban.

In November the Trump administration announced plans to reconsider the ban on uranium mining as part of its agenda to prop up dirty and dangerous domestic energy sources.

Last week two mining industry lobbying groups petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the 20-year moratorium for uranium mining on more than 1 million acres of land along the canyon rim, put in place in 2012 by then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. The mining groups are seeking reversal of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ December ruling to leave the ban in place.

“If the Supreme Court decides in favor of the uranium industry, it could permanently scar a sacred landscape that is the jewel in the crown of America’s natural heritage, and threaten the drinking water of 40 million Americans from Los Angeles to Las Vegas,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “President Trump has shown total disregard for preserving natural resources and protecting public health, and if the court overturns the ban, the Grand Canyon could soon fall victim to his radical agenda.” More

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