Gov. Brewer opposes northern Arizona mineral withdrawal
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has called on Sec. of Interior Ken Salazar to halt efforts to impose a 20 year withdrawal of nearly 1 million acres of federal lands in northern Arizona from hard rock mineral exploration and mining [right, outlined in red. Credit BLM] . In a letter sent to the Secretary on Friday, the Governor noted that federal and state laws heavily regulate mining in Arizona and the proposed restrictions are unnecessary and "will adversely impact the State of Arizona."
BLM is engaged in a two-year EIS process to determine if the federal lands should be withdrawn from exploration and mining activities for up to 20 years.
Gov. Brewer noted that "existing Federal law requires mining operations to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act, Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and various rules regulations and policies" established by US BLM and Forest Service.
She said that the proposed uranium mining in Northern Arizona will be from breccia pipes, which are typically dry and situated hundreds of feet above any aquifers. Coupled with state requirements for Aquifer Protection Permits, this will ensure there are no adverse impacts on underlying aquifers.
The Governor also argued that exploration activities do not involve extraction or transportation of uranium ore for processing and the small areas affected will be completely reclaimed.
Echoing recent statements made by Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, Gov. Brewer about environmental concerns from the legacy of early uranium mining and processing in the region, she pointed out that the problems occurred with different types of activities that those being proposed now and before the wide array of protective measures and procedures were put in place.
The 4-page letter described the national security concerns of the US continuing to import over 90% of this critical energy resource, while the Arizona Strip holds 42% of the nation's undiscovered uranium according to the USGS.
She concluded by urging the Secretary to recognize the "overwelming evidence that responsible uranium mining can be both safe for public health and the environment and compatible with teh Grand Canyon region and its watershed."
"The withdrawal proposal is overly broad and unnecessary because of the protections offered by state and federal laws that will ensure mining operations will be protective of the Grand Canyon region and the Colorado River."