June 22, 2007
The Honorable Rick Renzi
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Congressman Renzi:
We thank you for supporting the ban on uranium mining on Navajo territory and for your work in Congress to limit uranium mining activities and protect our water. We are not only concerned about mining on Navajo land but also on lands near our Tribal lands.
Please continue to help us by co-sponsoring H.R. 2262, the 1872 Mining Law Reform bill.
As you know, the Navajo Nation has fought an ongoing battle against uranium mining on our land for over fifty years and the impact is still being felt today.
Our land is dotted with contaminated tailings and hundreds of abandoned mines that have not been cleaned up. Our people have inhaled radioactive dust from the waste piles, drank contaminated water from abandoned pit mines and watered our herds with contaminated water. Our children have played in piles of mill tailings and spent mines. Our people suffer from high cancer rates and respiratory problems - cancer rates among Navajo teenagers living near mine tailings are 17 times that of the national average.
There has been a rush over the past five years to claim metals on public lands. Many of the claims are near such national treasures as the Grand Canyon and tribal lands. And, despite the ban on uranium mining on Navajo land, the mining industry is back, staking claims, buying mineral rights and applying for permits on the edge of Navajo land. They have made no secret of their desire to mine within the reservation also.
The Mining Law Reform bill will help us in many ways. It makes it a priority to protect special places like sacred sites. It sets strong public health, environmental and cleanup standards. It creates an abandoned mine fund and it insures that our voices are heard and valued when mining decisions are made.
Again, we sincerely thank you for your past support. As you have said, "...Rather than providing subsidies to the uranium industry, the federal government must focus on fulfilling its responsibility to assist individuals who have lingering health problems from past uranium exposure... I support the Navajo Nation's Resolution banning uranium mining on Navajo land...We must work to stop the threat of uranium exposure before it infects our future generations."
Please co-sponsor H.R. 2262.
Arizona Conservation Partnership
Native American Advisory Committee