Support for Congressman Gosar’s Amendment to Protect Mineral Withdrawal
Lake Havasu City, AZ
At the Board of Supervisors March 1st meeting, the Board is being asked by Chairman Buster Johnson to approve the ratification of a letter signed by the Chairman urging support for an amendment to H.R. 803 proposed by Congressman Paul Gosar. H.R. 803, also known as the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2021, would make permanent a 20 year moratorium on uranium mining in the Arizona Strip area of Mohave County. An amendment being provided by Congressman Paul Gosar would exclude lands in the 4th Congressional District of Arizona from the permanent mineral withdrawal under the Act. “Uranium mining in the past has been the forefront of our economic growth in Mohave County and if allowed to continue will bring in nearly $29 billion to our local economy over a 42 year period. Congressman Gosar’s amendment would help alleviate the permanent economic loss we would sustain under the passage of H.R. 803,” Johnson explained.
In 2012, the Secretary of the Interior imposed a 20 year ban on over 1 million acres of land in the Arizona Strip Area for the purpose of Uranium mining. This ban included both public lands and National Forest System lands. “This ban took away much needed growth and jobs from our area,” Johnson said. According to Johnson, Secretary Salazar at the time issued the withdrawal without complying with the law requiring coordination with local governments. The Federal Land Policy Management Act, 43 USC Section 1711 required that the Secretary and his designees “coordinate” with local government to develop and implement any plan or management action. “The congressional mandate of coordination also requires the Secretary to use all practicable means to reach consistency between the federal plan/management action and local policy, plan or law. All of which Secretary Salazar did not do,” Johnson continued.
In a letter addressed to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Chairman Johnson outlines the Boards support for Gosar’s amendment and explains why uranium mining is needed not only in Mohave County but on a national level. “The lands in the “Strip” contain the nation’s high grade uranium deposits and enough uranium to provide power generation for the state of California for over 20 years. Uranium is useful in many ways. It is used by our military for national security and defense. Uranium metal is very dense and heavy. When it is depleted (DU), uranium is used by the military as shielding to protect Army tanks, and also in parts of bullets and missiles. The military also uses enriched uranium to power nuclear propelled Navy ships and submarines, and in nuclear weapons,” Johnson explained in the letter. “From a national security standpoint, domestic utilities now import 90% of the uranium used to operate America’s 104 nuclear reactors. Thirty years ago, these reactors used U.S. mined uranium for 100% of electricity production. The nation cannot be pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear fuel. In sum, these deposits represent the last available use of our public lands for economic growth in our region.”
Many opponents of uranium mining continue to give the false and misleading information that mining for uranium will destroy the watershed of the Colorado River and that the environmental concerns of the past cannot be overcome with today’s technological upgrades. “Both of those statements are simply not true,” Johnson stated. “Mining with environmentally sound reclamation was conducted from the early 1980s until the price of uranium collapsed in 1993. No mining at all occurred from 1993 until 2010, and the Denison mine which is one of the last mines operating in the area after the moratorium, is following and often exceeding all environmental and safety laws,” Johnson said.
Supporters of uranium mining claim that nuclear energy can be the future of clean energy. “We have the resources in this Country to ensure that happens and we have the technology and means to ensure mining that uranium is both environmentally safe and protects our natural resources. I am hopeful that Congress will take the time to research the affects a permanent withdrawal will have on our County and the Country as a whole,” Johnson ended. (Mohave County News )