A uranium company launched a concerted lobbying campaign to scale back Bears Ears National Monument, saying such action would give it easier access to the area’s uranium deposits and help it operate a nearby processing mill, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and top Utah Republicans have said repeatedly that questions of mining or drilling played no role in President Donald Trump’s announcement Monday that he was cutting the site by more than 1.1 million acres, or 85 percent. Trump also signed a proclamation nearly halving the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is also in southern Utah and has significant coal deposits.
“This is not about energy,” Zinke told reporters Tuesday. “There is no mine within Bears Ears.”
But the nation’s sole uranium processing mill sits directly next to the boundaries President Barack Obama designated a year ago when he established Bears Ears. The documents show that Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc., a subsidiary of a Canadian firm, urged the Trump administration to limit the monument to the smallest size needed to protect key objects and areas, such as archeological sites, to make it easier to access radioactive ore.
Energy Fuels Resources did not just weigh in on national monuments through public-comment letters. According to federal lobbying records, the company spent $30,000 to hire a team of lobbyists at Faegre Baker Daniels — led by Andrew Wheeler, who is awaiting Senate confirmation as the Environmental Protection Agency’s deputy secretary — to work on the matter and other federal policies.
Green Dog Comment, we knew all along there had to be mining or fossil fuel industry interests behind this. Ugly sale of our National Monuments