For Immediate Release, April 23, 2020

Contact:

Taylor McKinnon, (801) 300-2414, tmckinnon@biologicaldiversity.org

Trump Working Group Calls for Uranium Industry Handout, Slashing Laws, Public-lands Protections

WASHINGTON— President Trump’s Nuclear Fuel Working Group today recommended that the government purchase domestically mined uranium, slash environmental laws and regulations, and lift public-lands protections to bolster sagging uranium mining industry. Those public lands protections include bans on uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park and other public lands.

The recommendations ignore concerns from conservation groups that such measures artificially inflate domestic uranium prices and pose unacceptable risks to communities, public lands, wildlife, water and cultural resources.

“These dangerous recommendations invite more deadly uranium pollution in rural communities and places like Grand Canyon National Park,” said Taylor McKinnon, a campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Every federal dollar wasted on this effort is a dollar stolen from cleaning up the industry’s toxic pollution legacy in the Navajo Nation and across the West. It’s despicable to risk irreversible harm to spectacular wild places by propping up uranium companies that can’t compete in global markets.”

The working group’s report calls for direct purchasing of domestic uranium to create a uranium reserve, starting with two domestic mines. It also recommends expanding access to uranium on public land, a direct attack on mineral withdrawals like the ban on new uranium mines around Grand Canyon. And the group calls for streamlining environmental laws and regulations, including the National Environmental Policy Act.

Uranium mining near the Grand Canyon threatens to industrialize public lands, harm sacred sites and deplete and pollute aquifers that feed Grand Canyon’s springs. To avoid those harms, the Interior Department in 2012 imposed a 20-year ban on new mines across 1 million acres surrounding the park.

Legacy pollution from more than 500 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation threaten homes and drinking water. The EPA recognizes that Navajo people living and sourcing water near these mines experience life threatening health effects associated with exposure to elevated levels of uranium, including lung and bone cancer and impaired kidney function.

“Sacrificing vital water resources and sacred lands is unacceptable,” McKinnon said. “We will do everything in our power to keep these disastrous proposals from taking off.”

According to the World Nuclear Association, the United States contains only 1% of the world’s recoverable uranium resources. Canada, Australia and Kazakhstan together contain over half. The low-grade uranium mines near the Grand Canyon are uncompetitive in global markets.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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