Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pete Domenici sought to dispel the misinformation that has led people in the Four Corners area to believe legislation now in Congress would promote uranium leach mining in the Crownpoint area.
Speaking on his regular Access radio program, Domenici took issue with reports that legislation he authored would permit a federal handout to a specific company to launch extensive uranium leach mining operations near Crownpoint.
“Neither my nuclear energy bill nor Congresswoman Wilson’s amendment would impact uranium leach mining in the Crownpoint area. People claiming the opposite are dishing out some serious misinformation. I have assurances that there is not going to be any activity near Crownpoint from my legislation,” Domenici said.
“These inaccurate stories have unfortunately worried people, and all I can say, over and over, is that my legislation doesn’t support ISL research in the Crownpoint area,” he said.
Domenici clarified the facts of provisions included in his Nuclear Energy Electricity Assurance Act of 2001 (S.472), which would authorize a $30 million federal program to support private sector research and cooperative projects on improving uranium leach mining technologies, developing better environmental restoration technologies, enhancing production while minimizing environmental impacts, and improving technologies for decommissioning and decontamination of uranium in-situ leach mining (ISL) sites.
Congresswoman Heather Wilson successfully added a similar provision to H.R.4, a national energy policy bill passed by the House of Representatives Aug. 2.
“We need, and can have, a balanced energy policy that supports the economic growth needed to provide for our families while protecting and preserving the land we love,”
Wilson said. “This proposal is just one part of what I believe needs to be done to allow us to use nuclear energy to meet the ever-increasing demand of our economy for more power without increased production of greenhouse gasses or avoidable environmental effects.”
Domenici also said he has received personal assurances from HRI, the mining company frequently cited by the media on this issue, that it would not and could not apply for ISL funding at any of its New Mexico sites.
In addition, Domenici pointed out that the Wilson amendment to HR.4 clearly states that only ISL uranium mining operations in place prior to 1998 could apply to be part of the new program. There is no such mining site that qualifies in New Mexico. Specifically, HRI lacks the infrastructure to conduct experiments at Crownpoint.
“This work has never been intended to be done at Crownpoint as frequently reported. In addition, assertions by the media and others that $30 million of federal funding will go to HRI are wrong and off base. The $30 million is an authorization, which if funded, would support this work within the whole industry across the country,” Domenici said.
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