As a major American uranium producer, our company, Energy Fuels, we sometimes get “caught-in-the-crossfire” of political controversies. This occurred most recently on the heels of President Trump’s recent decision to reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah, as described in a Washington Post article last Friday. Unfortunately, that article (and subsequent ones) have left some readers with a wildly exaggerated impression that we may have somehow played a significant role in the decision to reduce the size of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument (BENM). That is simply not the case.
We have clearly stated we are not opposed to the creation of national monuments, including BENM; and we support increased protection of areas that contain unique cultural, scientific, and environmental resources.
To set the record straight for all parties, here is a factual account of what transpired. On May 11, 2017, the Department of Interior solicited public comments on the effects the designation of BENM may have on the uses of lands beyond the Monument’s boundaries “to inform the review” of BENM. On May 27, 2017, in response to that request, we submitted a two-page comment letter describing how the BENM might affect two of our operations located near, but outside, the monument.
Our letter was one of approximately 2.8 million comments that the Department received and considered during a 65-day comment period. In addition, upon advice from the local Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office, we had a 30-minute meeting with Department of Interior officials in Washington DC, where we discussed many issues on a variety of matters, including clarifying our comments on BENM. In addition, very early in the Administration’s monument review process, we offered two alternatives for some minor boundary adjustments to fringes of BENM that we believe interfered with our existing operations. Those adjustments would have affected only about 1% to 2.5% of the monument’s total land area. It doesn’t seem to make sense to place a national monument adjacent to active uranium production operations.
Ultimately, we were only one voice among many. We unequivocally support a consensus approach to public land policy that protects areas with special scientific, environmental, and scenic resources, allows Native Americans to manage and protect valuable cultural and religious sites, and permits us to operate our facilities in a responsible manner. National monuments, in addition to other policy tools, can be an effective means to achieving these values.
President and Chief Operating Officer of Energy Fuels
Note: Our formal position was featured online today by The Denver Post. You can find the story here.