The Real Russia Collusion: Rep. Grijalva and Russian Uranium

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Washington, June 5, 2019 | jeff Small | comments
Today, Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar released the Top 20 Reasons to Reject H.R. 1373, Rep. Grijalva's one million-plus-acre land grab.
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For Immediate Release
Date: June 5, 2019
Contact: Western Caucus Press |
western.caucus@mail.house.gov

 The Real Russia Collusion: Rep. Grijalva and Russian Uranium
Chairman Gosar Releases Top 20 Reasons to Reject H.R. 1373,
Rep. Grijalva's One Million-Acre Land Grab
                                                                                            

WASHINGTON,D.C. – Today, Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar released the Top 20 Reasons to Reject H.R. 1373, Rep. Grijalva's one million-plus-acre land grab:

Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04): "We already know that the House Science Committee found Russia funneled cash to extremist organizations to intentionally undermine important American energy projects. It should come as no surprise then, that many of those same groups are strong supporters of Rep. Grijalva's one million-acre land grab and are seeking to make the U.S. reliant on unstable American adversaries, namely Russia & Kazakhstan, for 99% of our domestic uranium needs. Rep. Grijalva’s bill is an anti-mining, anti-American attack on my district that aims to prevent development of the highest grade and largest quantity uranium reserves in the country. The real Russia collusion involves Rep. Grijalva and his desire to make the U.S. dependent on Russian uranium."
 

Background:

Today, prior to a House Committee Natural Resources National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee hearing, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar released the Top 20 Reasons to Reject H.R. 1373, Rep. Grijalva's One Million-Plus-Acre Land Grab. The complete list can be found below.

This fundamentally-flawed legislation has existed in one form or another for more than a decade and has failed to gain any traction over that time.

Dr. Madan M. Singh, Director of the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources for the State of Arizona, previously testified in strong opposition to a nearly identical bill. Chairman Gosar will submit this testimony and attachments for the record at the Committee hearing. Dr. Sing's testimony and accompanying docs can be viewed HERE.  

Mohave County Supervisor of District 3, Buster Johnson, is testifying at the hearing in strong opposition to the bill. His full testimony can be viewed HERE.

The Arizona Geological Survey published a report finding that uranium mining would not contaminate the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon or surrounding watersheds. The study concluded that under an absolute "worst-case, mining-related uranium spill into the Colorado River, an increase of 0.02 ppb uranium would be trivial in comparison to the EPA drinking water Maximum Containment Level of 30 ppb uranium."

A previous press release from the Western Caucus and local stakeholders regarding this bill can be viewed HERE.

Courtesy of testimony of Michael D. Nedd, Deputy Director for Operations, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior.

H.R. 1373 would permanently withdraw over 1 million acres of Federal lands in the State of Arizona from the public land, mining, mineral, and geothermal leasing laws. 

Uranium, like oil and gas, solar, wind, geothermal, and other energy sources, remains a vital component of a responsible and comprehensive energy strategy.  Additionally, uranium has been identified by the U.S. Geological Survey as a critical mineral necessary to the economic and national security of the United States.

The Department has concerns about the size and scope of the withdrawal contained in the legislation; at over 1 million acres, the withdrawal covers an area that is 80 percent of the size of the state of Delaware. 


Top 20 Reasons to Reject H.R. 1373, Rep. Grijalva's One Million-Plus-Acre Land Grab

1.      On Monday, June 3rd, the US Energy Information Agency (a part of US Department of Energy) reported that domestic uranium production has collapsed.  For Q1, 2019 production totaled 58,481 pounds. Our 98 domestic operating nuclear power plant reactors require roughly 50 million pounds annually. Thus, domestic production for calendar year 2019 is on pace to be a fraction of 1% of total demand. We will be importing well roughly 99% from unstable American adversaries; namely Russia & Kazakhstan.  The US Navy, which is rapidly depleting stockpiled uranium supported adding uranium to the critical minerals list. Uranium is on the critical minerals list. 

2.      There is no reason America should be importing 97-99% of our uranium necessary for domestic reactors from countries with Russian influence when we have an ample supply here at home that will create good-paying jobs and be mined under higher standards that protect our environment.

3.      The breccia pipe formations in the withdrawal area represent the largest deposits of uranium in the United States and contain the largest quantities of reserves and the highest grades of American uranium ore by a factor of 6.  The withdrawal area constitutes the bulk of a 326,000,000 acre uranium reserve which the Nuclear Energy Institute estimates would provide California’s 45 million residents 22.5 years of electricity. Thus, the Northern Arizona deposits constitute the crown jewel infrastructure for America’s nuclear power generating capability and represent the nation’s most critical reserves for such purposes.

4.      Located within the withdrawal area there are 4,204 acres owned by the Arizona State Land Department for the benefit of Arizona’s school children. Locking away this resource will cost Arizona and Utah hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues that would help local communities and schools.

5.      Located within the withdrawal area are 19,789 acres of land held in private ownership.

6.      Uranium is critical for nuclear power, the most reliable and clean zero-emission energy source.

7.      Members of the Western Caucus wrote DOI twice asking the Department to overturn this political mineral withdrawal. Click HERE and HERE.

8.      The bill is a partisan attack and has 0 Republican cosponsors.

9.      Reps. Gosar held a field hearing where he heard from Representatives from dozens of local organizations that were opposed to a similar Grijalva effort. Testimonies and more info HERE.  

10.  Industry studies have shown direct adverse impacts from this withdrawal to rural portions of six counties in Arizona (Mohave, Coconino) and Utah (Kane, Garfield, San Juan and Washington) of between 2,000-4,000 lost jobs and $29 billion in overall economic activity in the region at peak production. Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl wrote in 2009 that the “mere threat of a withdrawal” forced banks to stop lending money for mineral exploration and made industry hesitant to commit capital to mining projects.  

11.  Somewhere in the range of 30-40% of the withdrawal lands are in Rep. Gosar’s district, the rest is in Rep. O’Halleran’s and NONE is in Rep. Grijalva’s district. Having said that, the majority of the mining claims are in Rep. Gosar’s district. In fact, just about all of the active and historic mines are in Rep. Gosar’s district (See page 9 of Encore Congressional Briefing HERE).  

12.  This fundamentally-flawed legislation has existed in one form or another for more than a decade. On July, 21, 2009, Dr. Madan M. Singh, Director of the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources for the State of Arizona, testified in strong opposition to a nearly identical bill.  

13.  Dr. Singh testified there is no threat to the Colorado River or surrounding watersheds if uranium mining in the area was allowed to occur. In fact, successful uranium mining in the area occurred in 1980s. These mines were reclaimed and you can’t tell where they existed. There was no damage done to the Grand Canyon waters or surrounding communities.

14.  Dr. Singh testified that removing uranium from the ground and reclaiming this area is better for the environment and the Colorado River, as water passing through the uranium bearing breccia pipes, because of erosion, is flowing into the Colorado River, even though these pipes have never been touched by mining. Despite this occurrence, the erosion into the water is not causing the Colorado River to be at dangerous levels. 

15.  Dr. Singh testified that in 2009 over 55.6% of the total area of the State of Arizona was already withdrawn from mineral exploration and mining.

16.  The Obama Administration proposed at least 31 domestic mineral withdrawals to prevent mining and this was a 1.01 million-acre withdrawal implemented for 20 years in 2012. It is not 2032 yet and there is no urgency or justification for this bill. There is no current threat to the Grand Canyon associated with uranium mining.

17.  Besides uranium, flag stone, sand and gravel, vanadium, copper, oil, coal, rare earths as well as other critical and strategic metals would be locked away forever under Rep. Grijlava’s bill.  

18.  Similar proposals put forth by the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Wilderness Society didn’t even try to hide their true goals, explicitly stating their intent was to lock-up this large swath of land in order to prevent mining, retire grazing permits, close roads to OHV users, and prevent forest thinning activities.

19.  Leaving the withdrawal in place is a direct attempt to undue the historic 1984 Arizona Strip Wilderness Act that was signed into law in the form of Public Law 98-406 and agreed to by the entire Utah and Arizona delegations. The compromise added 387,000 acres to the National Wilderness Preservation System in exchange for releasing 540,000 acres to multiple-use (including mining).” Other stakeholders at the table at the time included the National Parks and Conservation Association, the Wilderness Society, Arizona Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, grazers, timber companies, the mining industry, local businesses, civic groups, regulatory agencies, local county and state governments from Arizona and Utah.

Unfortunately, many of the same environmental organizations involved in passing the groundbreaking Arizona Strip Wilderness Act went back on their word. In order to appease these extremist groups that double-crossed industry, elected officials and the people of Arizona and Utah; the Obama Administration unilaterally acted to upend the bipartisan and bicameral bill passed by Congress. As the American Clean Energy and Resources Trust points out, “Using inaccurate, outdated, unrelated, often downright fabricated ‘arguments’ as well as more than a little ‘in your face’ chutzpah, environmental groups including the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the Grand Canyon Trust (GCT) and the Sierra Club pressured the then new Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, to withdraw almost one million acres of land in northern Arizona from any and all mining activities.”

As Chairman Mo Udall stated on the House floor on April 2,1984, the Arizona Wilderness Act was "an extraordinary example of what cooperation and compromise between business and conservation groups can produce, even when the subject is as emotional and controversial a subject as wilderness." Senators Orin Hatch and Dennis DeConcini wrote to Secretary Salazar, “This carefully crafted compromise provided new Wilderness designations to ensure that the Grand Canyon watershed was fully protected and allowed mining and grazing to continue in the remaining areas of the region. The agreement led to the passing of the Arizona Wilderness Act by large majorities in both the House and Senate. It is important to note that research conducted by USGS and preliminary findings by the University of Arizona confirm that uranium exploration and mining pose no threat to the Grand Canyon watershed or to the Park.”

20.  The Arizona Geological Survey which published a report stating, “Uranium is one of the many chemical elements in Earth‘s crust that are gradually washed away by weathering and erosion and dissolved in very small concentrations in river water and groundwater. The seemingly large amount of naturally occurring uranium in the Colorado River reflects the large water flux in the river, not unusually high uranium concentration. Colorado River water is consumed by millions of people in Arizona, California, and Nevada. Uranium concentration in river water, at about 4 ppb, has been consistently well below the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 30 ppb for drinking water. Under the conditions modeled here for a uranium ore-truck accident, designed to represent an extremely unlikely, worst-case, mining-related uranium spill into the Colorado River, an increase of 0.02 ppb uranium would be trivial in comparison to the EPA drinking water MCL of 30 ppb uranium. Furthermore, such an increase of uranium in river water would be undetectable against natural variation as revealed by variability in past uranium measurements of river water.”

Groups on record in opposition to similar Grijalva land grab proposals for this area include: American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; Public Lands Council;Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC); the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA); Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA); Americans for Limited Government; Archery Trade Association; Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Boone and Crockett Club; Camp Fire Club of America; Council for Citizens Against Government Waste; Eagle Forum; Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation; Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports; Dallas Safari Club; Delta Waterfowl Foundation; Heritage Action, Houston Safari Club; Masters of Foxhounds Association; Mule Deer Foundation; National Association of Forest Service Retirees; National Rifle Association; National Shooting Sports Foundation; National Wild Turkey Federation; North American Bear Foundation; Orion: The Hunter’s Institute; Quality Deer Management Association; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Ruffed Grouse Society; Safari Club International, Tread Lightly!; Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; WildlifeManagement Institute; Wild Sheep Foundation; Whitetails Unlimited; U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance; Anglers United of Arizona; Arizona Antelope Foundation; Arizona Bass Federation Nation; Arizona Big Game Super Raffle; Arizona Cattle Feeders' Association; Arizona Cattle Growers' Association; Arizona Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation; Arizona Chapter Safari Club International; Arizona Deer Association; Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society; Arizona Elk Society; Arizona Farm Bureau Federation; Arizona Flycasters Club; Arizona Game and Fish Commission; Arizona Houndsmen; Arizona Liberty; Arizona Mining Association; Arizona Outdoor Sports; Arizona Rock Products; Arizona Small Business Association; Arizona Wildlife Federation; Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce; the Mayor and City Council of Bullhead City; Catron County; City of Williams; Cochise /Graham Cattle Growers Association;Coconino County Farm Bureau and Cattle Growers Association, Coconino Sportsmen; Concerned Citizens for America; Ellsworth Ranch; Gila County Cattle Growers Association; Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association; Greenlee Cattle Growers Association; La Paz County Stockmen's Association; Livestock Market Digest Newspaper; Maricopa County Cattle Growers Association, Mohave County Board of Supervisors; Mohave Livestock Association, Mohave Sportsman’s Club; Navajo/Apache Cattle Growers Association; New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association; New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc.; New Mexico Federal Lands Council; New Mexico Stockman magazine; Outdoor Experience 4 ALL; Prescott’s HWY69 Group; South Eastern Arizona Sportsmen; Southern Arizona Cattlemen's Protective Association; SRT Outdoors; Shake, Rattle and Troll Radio; The Bass Federation; Town of Fredonia; Veritas Research; Whitewater Cattle Co.; Xtreme Predator Callers; Yavapai Cattle Growers Association; 1.2.3.Go...

Formal Resolutions and letters of opposition to similar Grijalva's proposals were sent and passed by: the American Hunter and Conservationists (letter); Arizona Game and Fish Commission (resolution); Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation (letter); Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation (resolution); Arizona Wildlife Federation (letter); Arizona Elk Society (letter); Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA) (letter); Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (letter); City of Williams (resolution); Town of Fredonia (resolution); Senate Concurrent Memorial 1001 (resolution); Arizona House Legislative(resolution); Sylvia Allen, State Senator, District 6, Arizona State Senate (letter); Gail Griffin, State Senator, District 14, Arizona State Senate (letter); Steve Pierce, State Senator, District 1, Arizona State Senate (letter).

The following members of Congress have opposed similar land grab proposals for this area from Rep. Grijalva:: U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, U.S. Representatives Mark Amodei, Brian Babin, Ken Buck, Paul Cook, Kevin Cramer, John Culberson, John Duncan, John Fleming, Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Bob Goodlatte, Crescent Hardy, Tim Huelskamp, Walter Jones, Mike Kelly, Steve King, Raul Labrador, Doug LaMalfa, Doug Lamborn, Mia Love, Cynthia Lummis, Patrick McHenry, Martha McSally, Tom McClintock, Dan Newhouse, Richard Nugent, Stevan Pearce, Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, Steve Russell, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, Chris Stewart, Glenn Thompson, Scott Tipton, David Valadao,Daniel Webster, Bruce Westerman, Don Young and Ryan Zinke.T

The following state officials from Arizona have opposed similar land grab proposals for this area from Rep. Grijalva: Governor Doug Ducey, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Former U.S. Senator John Kyl, Arizona State Land Commissioner Lisa Atkins, Speaker of the House David Gowan, Senate President Andy Biggs, State Senator Gail Griffin, State Senator Sylvia Allen, State Senator Steve Pierce, Apache County Supervisor Barry Weller, Pinal County Supervisors Cheryl Chase, Stephen Miller andAnthony Smith, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, La Paz County Supervisor King Clapperton, the five-member Arizona Game and Fish Commission and 10 former commissioners.

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