Meanwhile backstage

Who wanted to grab some of that Bears Ears land?

A uranium company launched a concerted lobbying campaign to scale back Bears Ears National Monument, saying such action would give it easier access to the area’s uranium deposits and help it operate a nearby processing mill, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and top Utah Republicans have said repeatedly that questions of mining or drilling played no role in President Trump’s announcement Monday that he was cutting the site by more than 1.1 million acres, or 85 percent.

No role, no role at all, it was a matter of principle.

“This is not about energy,” Zinke told reporters Tuesday. “There is no mine within Bears Ears.”

But the nation’s sole uranium processing mill sits directly next to the boundaries that President Barack Obama designated a year ago when he established Bears Ears. The documents show that Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc., a subsidiary of a Canadian firm, urged the Trump administration to limit the monument to the smallest size needed to protect key objects and areas, such as archaeological sites, to make it easier to access the radioactive ore.

And hey, a uranium mine or two never hurt anybody, right?

The idea of uranium mining is particularly sensitive among members of the Navajo Nation, who have a reservation near Bears Ears and played a key role in pressing for its creation. More than 500 uranium mines have been left near or on their lands, and most of these designated Superfund sites have not been cleaned up. Contamination still affects drinking-water wells, springs and storage tanks.

Navajo Nation Council delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, who represents several communities near Bears Ears, said Friday that the nation opposes any additional uranium development. “We felt the full brunt of uranium contamination and lost a whole generation of men who were mining or milling uranium,” she said.

Oh. Well, maybe if Trump makes enough Pocahontas jokes that will all just blow over.

3 Responses to “Meanwhile backstage”

Leave a Comment

Subscribe without commenting