The release said:
Internal emails obtained by the House Natural Resources Committee raise significant questions into the science used by the Obama Administration to justify a 20-year ban on uranium development on one million acres of federal land in Arizona. In the emails, scientists within the National Park Service discuss how the potential environmental impacts were “grossly overestimated” in the Administration’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and that the potential impacts are “very minor to negligible.”
A National Park Service hydrologist wrote in an internal email, “The DEIS goes to great lengths in an attempt to establish impacts to water resources from uranium mining. It fails to do so, but instead creates enough confusion and obfuscation of hydrologic principles to create the illusion that there could be adverse impacts if uranium mining occurred.” He notes that “previous studies have been unable to detect significant contamination downstream of current or past mining operations” and that “adverse impacts to water resources” is not a reason to be concerned about potential uranium mining operations.
Another employee with the National Park Service wrote that this is a case “where the hard science doesn’t strongly support a policy position.”I've expressed my frustration that the Secretary of Interior announced his decision before public comments on the Draft EIS had been analyzed or addressed by the federal agencies. In a conference call with Park Service and Interior officials on the day of the announcement, they told us that they had not read all of the DEIS but had received 300,000 postcards (about 96% of which were preprinted as I recall), and they had enough information to make their decision. [Update - 5-24-12 8:30pm: I revised this paragraph to correct a misstatement that the withdrawal was made upon release of the DEIS and before public comments had been received. I apologize for the confusion. See comments below.]
I recognize the Secretary's right to make such decisions on a variety of grounds including political, but today's release challenges the claim that this particular decision was science-based.
Addendum: Only a handful of emails were released by the House Committee. We don't know if there were contrary opinions inside the Park Service or how these concerns were ultimately handled. There is also the matter of 399 pages of materials that Interior did not give the House in 2009 and that the House is going after again. So, there are more aspects and details on this story that are yet to come.