To the editor:
Congressman Rick Renzi has stood with us on numerous occasions to ban uranium mining on and near Navajo land. He knows how important mining related issues are to our people. We were very disappointed that he voted against H.R. 2262, comprehensive Mining Law Reform, choosing mining companies over Arizona tribes.
I joined other officials who sent letters and called Congressman Renzi in support of mining law reform in the months before the mining vote. We did not receive responses to our letters. We met with Congressman Renzi in Washington where he expressed his support for the legislation and then he voted against it.
Navajo leaders, the 20 tribes represented by the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, hunters, anglers and taxpayers all communicated their support to Congressman Renzi for this legislation. That makes it even more difficult to understand why the Congressman did not support us on this vote.
As we communicated to Congressman Renzi, 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. Many of the claims are for uranium. There are an estimated 100,000 abandoned mines in Arizona with little resources available to deal with the problem.
H.R. 2262 will help 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 provides a way for rich mining companies to fund it.
We are very disappointed in Congressman Renzi on this vote and hope he will reconsider his decision and help see that this bill is enacted into law quickly.
Amos F. Johnson,
Native American Conservation Committee
and Navajo Nation Council Delegate
(Black Mesa, Rough Rock, Forest Lakes)
(Editor's note - The Intergovernmental Relations Committee of the Navajo Nation recently adopted a resolution supporting Mining Law Reform. It will be sent to Arizona's senators and also to Congressman Renzi asking him to reconsider his earlier vote against Mining Law Reform.)