WASHINGTON – Tribal members, environmentalists and lawmakers told a House panel Tuesday that including uranium on a list of “critical minerals” opens the door to expedited mining that will put tribal lands and national parks at risk.
They were responding to a Trump administration announcement earlier this month that directed the government to locate uranium and expedite permits for its mining as one of dozens of minerals considered essential for the country’s economic and national security.
But witnesses told a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing Tuesday that the administration plan does not take into consideration the public and environmental health risks that come with mining, especially uranium, which has a “toxic legacy” of polluting communities where it has been mined.
“Uranium pollution remains a threat for many generations into the future,” said Amber Reimondo, energy program director for the Grand Canyon Trust. “Americans are still grappling with the devastation of uranium operations from the last time the government propped up the uranium industry.”
She was one of several witnesses testifying in support of a bill by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, that would order the Interior Department to remove uranium from the list of critical minerals – permanently. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, criticized the bill as ignoring obvious national security issues in the name of “extreme and special interest groups.”