Friday, February 11, 2011
Hell Froze Over! Uranium and Conservation Advocates Unite to Defeat Uranium Mining Bill
You know what they say: politics makes strange bedfellows, and that's exactly what happened today. An unusual aligning of interests led the conservation community and the uranium industry to jointly oppose and defeat House Bill 111, the “Uranium Legacy Cleanup Act.” The bill was heard this Friday morning in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee (HENRC), and was tabled in a vote of 11 to 1. House Bill 111, sponsored by Rep. Patty Lundstrom (D-Gallup), sought to create a fund to begin to pay for the cleanup of uranium mining legacy waste sites.
Although cleanup is a desirable goal, this bill failed to create a fund of sufficient size and also would require new mining to begin in order for the fund to be capitalized, according to Conservation Voters of New Mexico (CVNM). Some residents of polluted mining communities viewed this bill as a “Trojan Horse,” teasing community members with the promise of paltry funds to clean up legacy wastes -- but only if new mining occurs.
“The priority for community members affected by legacy mining is to clean up the decades-old radioactive waste that still pollutes our land and water," said Sandy Buffett, CVNM Executive Director, “but communities should not be forced into accepting new mining as a condition for cleaning up the old mess.”
CVNM points out that an inventory of legacy uranium mine and mill sites has identified nearly three thousand mines or processing sites, most of which have had no remediation to clean up or repair damage done. Requiring responsible parties to clean up their old sites has proven to be nearly impossible. So far, anyway.