Western Caucus Press Releases

Salazar Delivers Devastating Blow to Utah and Arizona Economies

Energy Independence Falls Further Behind

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Washington, Jul 20, 2009 | melissa subbotin (202-225-0453) | comments

Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands and Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01) addressed today’s announcement that Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar will implement a two-year “Time Out” on new mining claims and withdrawal of over 1 million acres of land located near the Grand Canyon National Park.

“Today’s announcement ignores clear congressional direction and oversight and belies this Administration’s commitment to transparency and property rights. This is a terrible executive decision that will cost jobs, hurt our economy and make us less energy independent,” said Congressman Bishop.  “By essentially locking up America’s best uranium resource, we are cutting the legs out from under our domestic nuclear power industry.  The mining of these vital minerals, which occurs on an area of land adjacent to, not within, the national park, is done with the utmost safety for residents and visitors of the Grand Canyon and surrounding communities.”

Last March, Congressman Rob Bishop, House Republican Leader John Boehner as well as nine other Republican members sent a letter to Secretary Salazar requesting answers to the following questions before any action is taken to block access to uranium:

1. How much uranium is contained in these lands and what percent of our domestic high grade uranium is found there;
2. How much energy can be created if these deposits were to be extracted;
3. What effect would this have on the American energy consumer;
4. How much uranium is domestically mined and from what foreign sources do we depend on to meet our uranium needs;
5. How close are these deposits to the Grand Canyon itself and to the Park boundary and;
6. Using best practices, what effect extraction of these uranium deposits would have on the preservation of the Grand Canyon.

Secretary Salazar never responded to the letter.

Secretary Salazar’s actions are disingenuous at best. He has made it very clear that he places the priorities of environmental extremists over those of the American people,” Bishop added.  

Studies conducted on the sections of land included in Secretary Salazar’s withdrawal are said to contain approximately 40% of our nation’s domestic uranium deposits. U.S. nuclear plants consume about 60 million pounds of uranium fuel per year. Currently, the United States imports close to 90% of the total uranium consumption.

“This administration’s cabinet members need to synchronize priorities.  In one department Secretary Chu is noting the importance of Nuclear Energy, yet in another, Secretary Salazar is suffocating the industry by cutting off access to our largest domestic uranium supply, thereby increasing our dependence on foreign supplies,” Bishop concluded. “Furthermore, today’s unilateral actions completely disregard the 1984 Arizona Wilderness Act, whereby industry leaders, environmental groups and lawmakers came to an agreement that would provide responsible stewardship of the land as well as access to vital mineral deposits.”

“I think that nuclear energy should be a part of our energy portfolio in the United States this century. It’s carbon-free”- Secretary Chu, March 10, 2009
Vs.
“I am calling a two-year ‘Time-Out’ from all new mining claims in the Arizona Strip near the Grand Canyon.”- Secretary Salazar, July 20, 2009

Experts determined that today’s decision will result in a loss of over 2000 potential jobs for residents of Arizona and southern Utah.

Attachment: Letter from Congressman Rob Bishop and Republican members to Secretary Salazar.

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