SANTA FE, N.M., Aug. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ - Several recent articles from typically reliable publications have implied that the Trump administration is considering opening the Grand Canyon National Park to uranium mining. Disinformation is a major issue facing Americans today. The Uranium Producers of America would like to do our small part in addressing this disinformation as it relates to uranium mining.
We wish to state in no uncertain terms that nobody – including the U.S. uranium industry who we represent – is advocating to open the Grand Canyon National Park to uranium mining.
Here are some facts and science to consider:
Uranium mines in northern Arizona (and elsewhere in the U.S.) that have operated since the late 1970s have a strong record of safe operations and environmental responsibility. Indeed, recent studies by the U.S. Geological Survey confirm that the nine "breccia pipe" uranium mines that have operated in northern Arizona since the late 1970s have caused no adverse environmental or health impacts, including no groundwater contamination. None of those mines were in the Grand Canyon National Park.
There are important differences between uranium mining from 50+ years ago and what we do in 2020. The mining that occurred from the 1940s to 1960s was a lightly regulated, government-sponsored program. Today, our industry uses advanced mining practices, and U.S. miners lead the world in developing and implementing environmental protection and safety measures. Regulations from an array of federal and state agencies govern our activities.
There are two existing uranium mines in northern Arizona, along with a few small-scale proposed mines, well outside the national park boundaries. The proposed mines will only be permitted to proceed in accordance with today's stringent environmental standards.
The impacts of historic government-sponsored mining activities continue to plague Native American communities today. This is why our industry is actively urging the U.S. government to live up to its promises to Native American communities and immediately begin to clean the contamination left behind – and not repeat the mistakes of the past.
Uranium mining provides many environmental and health benefits. Uranium fuels the nuclear power plants that provide 20% of all electricity in the U.S. – and nearly 55% of our clean, carbon-free energy. This clean energy helps address climate change and reduces air pollution, which leads to significant public health benefits. The uranium from a typical mine in northern Arizona (less than 20 acres in size) can create the same amount of energy as the coal contained in a train that stretches from Los Angeles to New York City.
The U.S. was the world's largest uranium producer until the early 1980s. U.S. production fell in the 1980s, but imports into the U.S. were of little concern because they mainly came from allies like Canada and Australia. However, in the past 10-20 years, imports of uranium have shifted from Canada and Australia to geopolitical foes, like Russia, China and their allies.
Uranium is vital to U.S. energy security. It also supports our national security as the fuel for aircraft carriers and submarines and the nuclear deterrent. The U.S. has excellent uranium mines and deposits in Wyoming, Utah, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska and Arizona, and much U.S. production growth going forward will be from environmentally friendly ISR mining in various western states under approved and permitted licenses.
The people in the U.S. uranium mining industry are extremely proud of the work we responsibly do to help bring clean energy to homes and businesses across the country. Under proper regulatory oversight, we produce this clean energy resource in the most environmentally protective manner in the world.