Arizona BHA Supports Existing Uranium Mining Moratorium
December 11, 2017
RE: Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Review
Dear United States Forest Service,
The Arizona Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers urges the United States Forest Service [hereinafter Forest Service] to reconsider its position as outlined in the “USDA Final Report Pursuant to Executive Order 13783 on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” Revising Public Land Order 7787, for the possibility of re-opening the Grand Canyon for the exploration and development of uranium resources, fails to consider the adverse effects of uranium mining on the wildlife, habitat, and the area’s inhabitants.
The benefits of re-opening the Grand Canyon for the exploration and development of uranium resources do not outweigh the potential harmful impact on the state’s water resources. It is estimated that the “Colorado River supplies water to almost 27 million Americans living in the Southwest and provides irrigation water for 15% of the nation's crops.” William Jenney, Having Your Yellow Cake and Eating It Too: The Environmental and Health Impacts of Uranium Mining on the Colorado Plateau, 7 Ariz. J. Envtl. L. & Pol'y 27, 48 (2017), citing Abraham Lustgarten & David Hasemeyer, Colorado River May Face Fight of it's Life, THE SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE (Dec. 21, 2008, 12:02 AM), https://perma.cc/TK5U-WTV5. There is no question that that toxic chemicals resulting from uranium mining pose a significant risk to surrounding water resources.
Located near several abandoned uranium mines, parts of the Navajo nation continue to struggle with uranium mining contamination. “Since 2006, the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have sampled 240 unregulated water sources on the Navajo Nation, finding that twenty nine exceeded drinking water standards for nucleotides, including uranium.” Id. Coupled with the history of drought throughout the entire Southwest and the subpar history of uranium mining safety, one would logically expect measures protecting the water sources from future pollution and not for the potential destruction of those water sources.
Moreover, the Forest Service has failed to consider the economic impact of re-opening the Grand Canyon for the exploration and development of uranium resources. Over 4 million people visit the Grand Canyon area every year for its wildlife, raft adventures, hunting, fishing, and camping. How Many Visitor Come to See the Grand Canyon? https://grandcanyon.com/news/how-many-visitors-to-grand-canyon/ (last visited Dec. 11, 2017). Many of these great outdoor activities would come to an indefinite halt if the Grand Canyon water resources were contaminated with toxic waste.
Arizona already has two (2) uranium mines that have been placed on standby status “until mineral prices increase to the point at which mining will again be economically feasible.” William Jenney, Having Your Yellow Cake and Eating It Too: The Environmental and Health Impacts of Uranium Mining on the Colorado Plateau, 7 Ariz. J. Envtl. L. & Pol'y 27, 48 (2017). It does not make sense to re-open the Grand Canyon to uranium resources on a hope for future economic feasibility to the determinant of the environment and its wildlife. The Forest Service must not yield to the economic interests of the mining industry at the expense of the surrounding wildlife and its habitat. Accordingly, the Arizona Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers urges the Forest Service to reconsider its position.
The Arizona Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers