Category Archives: Grand Canyon
In the Phoenix New Times story, Canyon Mine Faces Accusations of Environmental Racism by Navajos, Sierra Club (March 21, 2017), the vice president for marketing and corporate development at Energy Fuels Nuclear (USA) Inc., who owns Canyon Mine, had a few interesting things to say. Unfortunately, he put forward no evidence behind his statements, and we have photos and documents to back up ours.
1.) Water being trucked from Canyon Mine has elevated levels of uranium, and possibly other toxic chemicals too. The Phoenix New Times article reported:
…a spokesman for Energy Fuels previously told the Arizona Daily Sun that the water being trucked through the Navajo Nation has three times the amount of dissolved uranium than is considered “safe” to drink. And in a November report to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the company noted that the water contains 30 times the recommended level of arsenic.
But now Curtis Moore, vice president for marketing and corporate development at Energy Fuels, says that the water is not contaminated. “The excess water we are managing is relatively clean, and contains only trace amounts of natural uranium,” he wrote in an e-mailed response.
“In fact, the water we are trucking offsite either meets – or comes very close to meeting – EPA drinking water standards for dissolved uranium.”
FACT: Energy Fuels Nuclear (USA) Inc. told the Arizona Daily Sun that the water contained 90 micrograms per liter, three times the drinking water “standard” of 30 micrograms per liter set by the EPA. This level of uranium contamination was confirmed in a conversation between Sierra Club and the Kaibab National Forest on March 17, 2017. This level is lower than the amount that Energy Fuels Nuclear (USA) Inc. reported to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in its “General Aquifer Protection Permit Annual Report for 2016”, when they reported 130 micrograms per liter of uranium (over four times the drinking water standard) and 292 micrograms per liter of arsenic (over 29 times the drinking water standard for arsenic) in water taken from the shaft of Canyon Mine on November 9, 2016.
2.) Contaminated water is being sprayed in the air – and radioactive mist is drifting into the Kaibab National Forest.
Making matters even worse, the Sierra Club says, Energy Fuels is now spraying some of the water from the mine into the air in an attempt to get it to evaporate. Photos captured by Sierra Club and Haul No! volunteers appear to show radioactive mist drifting into the Kaibab National Forest, which surrounds the mine…
Curtis Moore of Energy Fuels disputed the environmental group’s claims.
“We are not blowing water into the forest, as the Sierra Club claims,” he wrote in his e-mailed response.
“We have employed some commonly utilized enhanced evaporation machines that creates a mist over the pond to speed evaporation rates, which we shutdown during high-wind days to avoid the potential of the mist of this relatively clean water from crossing our fence-line.”
FACT: Here’s a picture taken at Canyon Mine on March 12, 2017, outside the perimeter fence of Canyon Mine, on a day when the average wind speed was only 4mph at the nearby Grand Canyon Airport, with gusts of 20 to 30 mph.
Aaaaaand, here’s another one:
Sure looks to me like the toxic mist is hitting the forest…
3.) Trucks moving uranium-laced water through the Navajo and Ute Nations are mislabelled or poorly marked.
FACT: This photo shows a truck arriving at Canyon Mine’s front gate to pick up a load of water headed for the White Mesa uranium mill in Blanding, Utah. The placard says “1268” which is a marking indicating the truck is hauling petroleum products. Nothing indicates the presence of uranium in the truck’s contents.
Facts. Nothing but facts here.
Please let us know what you think.
U.S. Court of Appeals to Hear Back-to-Back Cases on Uranium Mining Threats to the Grand Canyon Region, Thursday Dec. 15 in San Francisco
San Francisco — The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco will hear oral arguments Thursday, December 15 on two key cases involving uranium mining on public lands near Grand Canyon National Park.
In the first case, Havasupai Tribe v. Provencio, the Havasupai Tribe, Grand Canyon Trust, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club challenge the United States Forest Service’s decision to allow Energy Fuels Resources to reopen the Canyon uranium mine, which was initially approved in the 1980s and had been closed since 1992. The federal agency permitted this “zombie” mine to reopen without analyzing the mine’s environmental impacts in light of changed circumstances in the intervening quarter-century.
The Canyon Mine is located on the Kaibab National Forest, a few miles south of Grand Canyon National Park, and is within a one million acre area that was withdrawn from mining in 2012 due to concerns about uranium mining’s environmental and cultural threats to the Grand Canyon watershed.
Richard Hughes of Rothstein Donatelli LLP will argue on behalf of the Havasupai Tribe; Neil Levine of Grand Canyon Trust will argue on behalf of conservation groups.
The second case, National Mining Association v. Jewell, involves mining and uranium industries’ challenges to the Interior Department’s 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims on public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon.
The ban was requested in 2008 by Arizona’s governor, local governments, American Indian tribes, recreationists, and conservation groups concerned about a uranium mining boom’s impact on groundwater, cultural resources, and the iconic landscapes surrounding the Grand Canyon. It was issued by then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in 2012. The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona upheld the ban in two rulings, one in 2013 (decision here) and the other in 2014 (decision here), and the mining interests appealed.
The nonprofit law firm, Earthjustice, will represent the Havasupai Tribe, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and National Parks Conservation Association in defending the ban. Department of Justice attorneys will also defend the Interior Department’s decision.
What: Arguments in Havasupai Tribe v. Provencio and National Mining Association v. Jewell before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
Where: Courtroom 4, Room 260
James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse
95 Seventh St.
San Francisco, Calif.
When: Approximately 9:30 a.m. PST, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, September 30, 2016
FLAGSTAFF, AZ — Rep. Anne Kirkpatrick (AZ-1) today announced her support of the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument, signing on as a co-sponsor to the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act. Kirkpatrick joins a long list of those speaking out for a monument designation, including more than 20 area Tribal Nations, more than 400 local businesses, and local and national leaders.
“I applaud Rep. Kirkpatrick for standing with many people in Arizona and throughout the country who want to safeguard these lands from new uranium mines,” said Celia Barotz, Vice-Mayor of Flagstaff.
The proposal enjoys strong support in the state, with 4 in 5 Arizonans supporting protecting the public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon as a national monument– support reflected nationwide with 82% of people in favor of the proposal. Across the country more than half a million people have joined the call for action by President Obama.
“What’s good for the environment is also good for our economy. People travel from around the world to see an untouched Grand Canyon, not uranium mining operations,” said Ash Patel, president and CEO of Southwest Hospitality Management, LLC and past chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association. “Protecting Grand Canyon for future generations is dear to my heart. The step Rep. Kirkpatrick took today brings us one step closer to ensuring this natural beauty stays in its more rare form.”
Speak up at Uranium Mine Public Hearings
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is issuing new air quality permits to three uranium mines within 20 miles of Grand Canyon National Park. Two mines are preparing to open for the first time: Canyon Mine south of Grand Canyon and EZ Mine north of Grand Canyon. One mine is on “standby” and not currently producing ore: Arizona 1 Mine north of Grand Canyon. The Pinenut Mine, also north of Grand Canyon, is preparing for “reclamation” and is not being required to have an air quality permit.
ATTEND A PUBLIC HEARING:
Monday, August 29 6pm
Fredonia High School Gymnasium
221 E. Hortt St.
|Tuesday, August 30 1pm-3pm
Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites
|Tuesday, August 30 6 pm
Sinagua Middle School Auditorium Mini A
3950 E. Butler Ave.
SUBMIT A WRITTEN COMMENT:
Written comments are due August 30. More information and link to submit comments at https://www.azdeq.gov/PN/EnergyFuelsResources
Here are some talking points to use when preparing your comments. Choose points you feel confortable talking about, and personalize with your own reasons for opposing these mines. If you have questions or want help preparing for the hearing, contact Alicyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or (928) 774-6514.
- Deny these permits. These mines are all located in Grand Canyon’s watershed and threaten the water, soil, and air of the Grand Canyon ecoregion.
- It is ADEQ’s responsibility to protect the air and water resources of this state, and to enforce the Clean Air Act and protect the citizens from pollution.
- Uranium dust is most dangerous when ingested or inhaled. Once inside the human body, it can damage the lungs, kidneys, bones, or cause birth defects. Trucks will only be covered with tarps and can spread dust along roadways. They can also pick up contamination from the ground at the mine and shed it as they travel.
- Ore trucks should be completely sealed – not just covered with a secure tarp.
- 10-12 trucks per day will move through Valle, Williams, Flagstaff, Cameron, Tuba City, and much of the Navajo Nation on their way to a mill in Blanding, UT; then, empty trucks will return along the same path. Tell ADEQ how the risks associated with these mines affects your ability to enjoy your property and to feel safe on your community’s roadways and public lands. Tell them about your fear of inhaling dust or receiving a dose of radiation while sharing the roads with these vehicles. Make your testimony personal.
- Contamination was found around the closed and reclaimed Pigeon and Hermit mines north of Grand Canyon, and soils near roads were also contaminated. Roads near the 1979 Church Rock, NM uranium mining disaster showed contamination near haul roads. There must be dust sampling along all haul roads, and communities should be prepared with emergency response plans in case of an accident causing an ore spill.
- Uranium and arsenic have been consistently detected at elevated levels in the soils surrounding previously mined areas in northern Arizona.
- Red Butte, adjacent to Canyon Mine, is a Traditional Cultural Property that is significant to the Havasupai, Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, and Hualapai tribes.
- The Plan of Operations for Canyon Mine is over 30 years old and should be revised before air permits for it are issued.
- The EZ Mine has had no federal review under the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, or National Historic Preservation Act. ADEQ should wait for these processes to be complete and before issuing an air permit.
- Require a permit for and monitoring of the Pinenut Mine (Permit #62876) until all radioactive material has been removed and no contamination or radiation can be detected for at least a year.
- The permittee, Energy Fuels, is responsible for monitoring dust and emissions, and self-reporting emissions that exceed legal limits. They will also self report deviations from permit requirements. An independent third party should be responsible for monitoring and reporting problems.
- The amount of water required to suppress dust will be large in comparison to the amount of groundwater available in the region. That groundwater is important to maintain vital seeps and springs that humans and wildlife depend on.
- Radon emissions (radon-222) limitations will be calculated as a function of the number of pounds of material processed, instead of having a hard limit on the amount of radon released. ADEQ should limit the total amount of radon that the mine is allowed to release per hour. Ore processing should not be allowed to occur at a rate that causes emissions to exceed the limit.
- Soil and radiation monitoring outside the fence will be 100 feet from the fence. Sampling should also occur closer to the fence to catch problems before they spread that far.
- Soil sampling will only happen once per year. It should happen at least quarterly. Gamma radiation will be monitored quarterly. Outside independent monitors should perform these activities.
- We know that soil contamination has occurred near other areas where ore and mined rock have been able to stand at uranium mines. ADEQ shouldn’t wait until contamination is found before ordering the mine to implement measures to protect the ore piles. As a condition of this permit, the mine should have to: construct wind barriers, storage silos, or a three-sided walled enclosures to protect ore piles; or, piles should be covered with tarp, plastic, or other material that is regularly checked for tears and maintained as necessary to prevent holes and abrasions.
State of Arizona Asked to Reject Permit Renewals for Uranium Mines Near Grand Canyon National Park http://www.sierraclub.org/arizona/blog/2016/08/state-arizona-asked-reject-permit-renewals-for-uranium-mines-near-grand-canyon
For Immediate Release, August 15, 2016
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.— Conservation groups today asked the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to deny air permits for three uranium mines near Grand Canyon and to continue monitoring a mine that is no longer active. All of these mines are located within watersheds (surface and ground) that drain directly into Grand Canyon National Park and threaten water, air and other important resources of the greater Grand Canyon ecoregion, including soil, wildlife, sacred Native American sites and the health of people who are exposed to the heavy metals and radiation associated with these mines.
Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity filed comments with ADEQ outlining ongoing concerns with the four uranium mines. The groups noted that in 2010, they, Coconino County Supervisor Carl Taylor and hundreds of citizens objected to issuing air permits for these mines because of unacceptable risks to residents and visitors to the Grand Canyon region. ADEQ has yet to address the substantive issues that were raised.
Earlier this year, ADEQ suspended the permit renewal process after increased uranium levels were found in the soil near Pinenut Mine, north of Grand Canyon. Soil tests indicated that the uranium levels were four times higher than the normal background levels
“Once again we see the cumulative evidence of uranium contamination,” said Roger Clark with the Grand Canyon Trust. “When will the Grand Canyon State stop issuing permits to pollute our air and water?”
“For more than a half-century, uranium mining has permanently polluted our land, air and water. Its deadly legacy is well documented and yet state and federal agencies are still permitting new mines,” said Sandy Bahr with Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “Given the proximity of these mines to Grand Canyon and the history of contamination, ADEQ should give these mines the utmost scrutiny and reject these permits.”
“Uranium mining on the Colorado Plateau unleashed an unending environmental disaster that has permanently scarred the landscape and local communities,” said Katie Davis with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is unconscionable that ADEQ would continue to sacrifice our natural heritage and the health of our fellow citizens by granting these permits.”
In 2012 the Obama administration issued a “mineral withdrawal” prohibiting new mining claims and the development of claims lacking valid existing rights across 1 million acres of public land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. Despite public protests and legal challenges from local American Indian tribes and conservation groups, federal agencies allowed several uranium mines established prior to the withdrawal, including the Canyon, AZ1, and Pinenut mines, to resume operations. All the mines are operated by Energy Fuels Resources, Inc., a company with a history of regulatory violations.
The Canyon Mine is located on the Kaibab National Forest, six miles south of Grand Canyon National Park. It is currently operating and has obtained federal permits, which are being challenged in federal court. The AZ1 and EZ mines are both located north of Grand Canyon on Bureau of Land Management lands. Operations at AZ1 are currently suspended. EZ mine is not yet operational and has not been permitted at the federal level. Though currently subject to reclamation activities, the Pinenut Mine site, located north of Grand Canyon on BLM lands, remains contaminated and continues to be a source of radioactive dust pollution.
Learn about how you can weigh in on ADEQ’s uranium mine permits: http://www.azdeq.gov/PN/EnergyFuelsResources
Read our comments on the uranium mine permits: http://www.grandcanyontrust.org/sites/default/files/resources/gc_ADEQ_comments_8_15_16.pdf
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
SALT LAKE CITY– As the Outdoor Retailer show gets underway in Salt Lake City, leaders in the outdoor industry have united to urge President Obama to act quickly on a proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument in Arizona. The leaders join a long list of those speaking out for a monument designation, including more than 20 area Tribal Nations, nearly 100 local businesses, and local and national elected leaders.
The proposal enjoys strong support in the state, with 4 in 5 Arizonans supporting protecting the public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon as a national monument. Nationwide more than half a million people have joined the call for action by President Obama.
“During the Winter Outdoor Retailer show, it was clear that passions run deep in our industry for protecting the Greater Grand Canyon,” said John Sterling, executive director of the Conservation Alliance, which hosted a breakfast event that highlighted the monument proposal. “Since then support has continued to grow, as has the need to act. Now is the time to protect the Greater Grand Canyon’s heritage.”
“The Greater Grand Canyon boasts some great climbs, but it also hosts forests, grasslands and meadows. That opportunity for surprise is what ignites the passion for exploration that is central to Petzl’s mission. We cannot afford to stay static; a national monument is needed to preserve the outdoor experience of these public lands,” said Nazz Kurth, president of Petzl America.
“I’ve been fortunate to make a career out of my love for the outdoors, working with companies like Patagonia and Keen, which share my belief that access to wild places is foundational nourishment for the human spirit—a belief fed and watered largely by experiences offered by places like the Greater Grand Canyon,” said Casey Sheahan, Keen Footwear board of advisors.
“Future generations deserve to experience the unspoiled beauty of the Grand Canyon and the surrounding landscape as their ancestors did, as I and my family have,” said Danny Giovale, Kahtoola founder. “President Obama has an opportunity to ensure that all Americans have the chance to experience the grandeur of Grand Canyon’s watershed through the creation of the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. I urge him to work with the tribal nations and make a designation quickly. It’s a move that will benefit us all.”
Join Area Tribes, Local Electeds,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Contact: Carletta Tilousi, email@example.com, (480) 296-3984
Celia Barotz, firstname.lastname@example.org, (928) 853-7295
Sarah Ponticello, email@example.com, (831) 998-2585
WASHINGTON,D.C.– Today groups announced the delivery of more than 550,000 petition signatures and comments urging President Obama to designate the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. The supporters join a long list of those speaking out for the monument designation, including more than 20 area Tribal Nations, nearly 100 businesses, outdoor recreation and conservation groups, and local and national elected leaders. The sheer number of signatures and comments is a demonstration of the growing movement calling on President Obama to take action to protect the public lands around Grand Canyon.
Avaaz, CREDO, Center for Biological Diversity, Environment Arizona, Grand Canyon Trust, League of Conservation Voters, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society were among the groups participating in the delivery.
“At the national, state and local level, the American people stand behind this effort and believe in its purpose,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Natural Resources. “Conserving Native American history and culture, protecting the environment and guaranteeing public access to these lands in perpetuity are each important goals. Creating the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument meets each of those goals and more. I firmly believe this administration hears the voice of the people, and I look forward to working with President Obama to protect this land once and for all.”
“The Havasupai and tribes living near the Grand Canyon need the support of all citizens residing in the United States to support the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act,” said Carletta Tilousi, Havasupai Tribal council member. “Our goal is to protect the Grand Canyon from international uranium mining companies. The uranium companies have contaminated enough of our waters and lands. We need to protect what is left of the Grand Canyon by working together and protect the Canyon for all peoples to enjoy peace and tranquility of god’s land.”
“Protection of the Grand Canyon is most important to the Hopi Tribe. As stewards of the land we value and appreciate the public support for the preservation of this special place that is culturally and spiritual significant to the Hopi people,” said Herman Honanie, Hopi Tribal Chairman. “Not only has Hopi always paid homage to the Grand Canyon, it has often been referred to as one of the ‘Great Wonders of the World’. So it ought to be considered as such and so proclaiming it a national monument is in order. Further, President Theodore Roosevelt visited and viewed the Grand Canyon in 1903; he was taken by its grandeur, and stated, ‘Leave as it is.’ Today, we need to heed his words as well as those who want to see the Grand Canyon area preserved in its current state.”
Honanie continued, “We still need the public’s help to let President Obama know to designate the Grand Canyon as America’s next national monument. As the ‘Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument,’ this will ensure that this spiritual place is protected for future generations.”
“The Grand Canyon is a culturally significant area which sustains life for many tribal people and cultures,” said Shan Lewis, President, Inter Tribal Association of Arizona and Vice Chairman, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe. “It is encouraging to see the outpouring of support from across all walks of life for the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act. The Act will provide for the future sustainability of this living, national treasure as well as the cultures and people that call the Grand Canyon home.”
Recognizing both the threats to the area and its cultural, natural, and economic importance, local city and county officials too have echoed the tribal leadership to safeguard the heritage of the Greater Grand Canyon area.
“The Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument proposal represents a unique opportunity to serve multiple objectives- protecting the incredible natural and cultural assets surrounding the Grand Canyon, supporting our regional economies, continuing critical forest restoration initiatives and guaranteeing multiple uses activities like hunting, ranching and traditional food gathering,” said Coconino County District 1 Supervisor Art Babbott. “District 1 encompasses much of the southern portion of the proposed monument and I strongly support the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. This proposal, which balances conservation and existing uses, stands in sharp contrast to efforts to dispose of our irreplaceable public lands to the very wealthy and multinational mining interests whose number one priority is radically expanding uranium mining in and around the Grand Canyon.”
“I stand strongly with the more than half a million Americans, including 80 percent of Arizona’s registered voters, Flagstaff area business owners, and Arizona state and local elected officials who support the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument,” said Flagstaff Vice-Mayor Celia Barotz. “I urge President Obama to fulfill the vision of Theodore Roosevelt when he designated the Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908.”
Scottsdale developers are trying to force the construction of a resort and tramway that would disrupt the peaceful nature of Grand Canyon’s East Rim. The Confluence of the Little Colorado and Colorado Rivers is bounded by Grand Canyon National Park and the Navajo Nation. Locals oppose the development, which would take away the the lands where they live, work, herd livestock, pray and heal. If this bill passes, the tram could take 10,000 people per day into what is now a quiet place of natural beauty.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye agrees to veto any legislation that promotes the development on sacred land, but the pushy developers are trying to convince a veto-proof Navajo Nation Council majority to support the bill. Although the developers are selling their gimmicky plan with promises of economic prosperity, the bill would include non-compete agreements that would actually prevent those whose livelihoods are upended from opening their own businesses on thousands of acres surrounding the project – forcing them to work at the complex or find another way to support themselves.
The bill could move forward in June or July, and, at that time, we will need to flood the legislators with letters from people across the planet saying they would never visit or spend money at this development that local people do not want!
A group of locals called “Save the Confluence” is working hard to get information out to the public. We encourage you to visit http://savetheconfluence.com/news to learn about the fight against the project. There, you can subscribe to email updates and get notified when and how to act to prevent defacement of the Confluence. We encourage you to visit http://savetheconfluence.com/news for more information.
Please stay alert on this one!
New Polling Confirms Strong Support for Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument, Public Lands
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 11, 2016
PHOENIX, AZ– At an event with former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project today released the results from its 2016 Conservation in the West poll. The findings clearly illustrate the importance of public lands to people living in the West. Within Arizona, the poll found strong support (73%) for a proposal to designate the public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon as a Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. Further, the findings reveal a desire by Arizonans for future presidents to continue the country’s conservation legacy by protecting existing public lands as national monuments (84% support). Bolstering this opinion is the belief by 73% of Arizonans that national public lands, including national monuments, help the economy.
Late last year Congressman Grijalva and tribal leaders from across Northern Arizona announced support for a Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument, reflecting the long history and deep cultural roots of the region.
In response, members of the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage Coalition issued the following statements.
“The Greater Grand Canyon is crucial habitat for California condors, mountain lions, and a host of other wildlife,” said Kim Crumbo, conservation director for Grand Canyon Wildlands Council. “Designation of the area as a new national monument would protect and restore safe passageways for mule deer and other wildlife from Grand Canyon National Park to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.”
“At every opportunity, residents of Arizona have expressed strong support for permanent protection for the greater Grand Canyon region – now it’s time for action,” said Katie Davis, public lands campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity. “We stand with the public and tribal communities in calling on President Obama to permanently protect this precious landscape.”
“It is not surprising that Arizonans are strongly supportive of safeguarding public lands around Grand Canyon,” said Sandy Bahr, chapter director for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “Protecting the communities, wildlands and wildlife in and around Grand Canyon from uranium mining has long been a priority for people across the state and throughout the country. A national monument is an important next step to safeguard this valuable region.”
Learn more about the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument at www.greatergrandcanyon.org.
TAKE ACTION HERE TO PROTECT LANDS AROUND GRAND CANYON AS A NEW NATIONAL MONUMENT.
For immediate release, Dec. 21, 2015
Shiloh Hernandez, Western Environmental Law Center, (201) 204-4861
Colleen Cooley, Diné C.A.R.E., (928) 637-3221
Mike Eisenfeld, San Juan Citizens Alliance, (505) 360-8994
Rachel Conn, Amigos Bravos, (575) 770-8327
Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, (801) 300-2414
Nellis Kennedy-Howard, Sierra Club, (218) 849-4523
PHOENIX— After years of refusal by U.S. government agencies to address coal pollution damage from the Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine, Diné (Navajo), regional and national conservation groups today took joint legal action to seek justice for impacts to communities, the climate and endangered species.
Today the groups filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Office of Surface Mining, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies for approving the Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine Energy Project in July. The approval prolongs the 52-year-old power plant and coal mine — among the most notorious for coal contamination in the country — through 2041 despite impacts from coal toxins to communities, the San Juan River Basin, its ecosystems and endangered species.
“While the rest of the world is transitioning to alternative forms of energy, the Four Corners Power Plant continues to burn coal and will do so for the next 25 years,” said Colleen Cooley with Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment. “Prolonging coal not only condemns our health and the water, air, and land around us, it undermines our community’s economic future because we are not investing and transitioning to clean energy. Even former owner of the Navajo Mine, BHP Billiton has exited many coal contracts across the globe because coal is no longer economically feasible.”
Community and conservation groups have exposed gaping deficiencies in the U.S. government’s impact study of Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine, including inadequate analysis of clean energy alternatives to prolonged operation of the coal plant and insufficient consideration of carbon pollution impacts, public health problems, threats to endangered species, water contamination from coal ash waste, and impacts to Navajo culture.
“The U.S. government supposedly sees the importance of the transition to the clean energy economy nowadays, so it’s really an affront to Four Corners area residents when the feds won’t even provide honest evaluation of pollution or solar and wind alternatives at Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine,” said Mike Eisenfeld with San Juan Citizens Alliance. “All of us in the Southwest deserve at least an honest expert analysis.”
Today’s notice cites violations of the Endangered Species Act, and will be followed in 60 days by additional claims under the National Environmental Policy Act relating to pollution impacts on climate, people and local communities.
“Mercury is the top cause of water quality impairment in New Mexico lakes and reservoirs,” said Rachel Conn, interim executive director for Amigos Bravos. “Over 60,000 acres of New Mexican lakes and reservoirs are polluted with Mercury. It is unacceptable that in over half of the State’s lakes and reservoirs, New Mexicans can no longer fish without worrying about poisoning their families.”
“Decades of deadly coal pollution in the San Juan Basin have poisoned people, the San Juan River and its endangered fish,” said Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Our laws require the government to recover endangered species, but more coal pollution will push San Juan River fish toward extinction. The time for a just transition to clean, renewable energy is now.”
“Federal agencies must assure that coal operations follow the law. What agencies can’t do is bend the law to accommodate coal operations, but that’s just what they did here,” said Western Environmental Law Center Attorney Shiloh Hernandez. “What this really shows is the outdated and heavily polluting Navajo Mine and Four Corners Power Plant can’t operate in compliance with the law. These facilities are obsolete and need to transition.”
“This toxic, outdated facility has been wreaking havoc on the health of people and ecosystems for far too long,” said Nellis Kennedy-Howard, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “The Office of Surface Mining and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ignored the obvious environmental impacts of this facility when they approved extending its life.”
Groups party to today’s notice include Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Amigos Bravos, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club. They are represented by attorneys Shiloh Hernandez, Matt Kenna, Kyle Tisdel and Laura King of the Western Environmental Law Center, John Barth, and Michael Saul of Center for Biological Diversity.
Download a copy of today’s notice here.