By Jack Caldwell

The Grand Canyon is uranium country.   It is also great vacation country.  A move by the Bush administration to limit Congress’s  power to prevent mining on public land makes me wonder if soon-to-be out-of-work Republicans are not more interested in vacation property than mining property.  For sure they are not interested in creating jobs for out-of-work uranium miners.

The terrible gall of these people, now in lame-duck status, pushing through favors for friends.  I repeat this statement by Rep Raul Grijalva of Arizona:

This last-minute change puts at risk the health of millions of citizens of the West who rely on the Colorado River of the Grand Canyon for their drinking water supply, as well as visitors to the Park and tribal communities within and around the Grand Canyon.

I suspect he is probably wrong about the risk to millions of drinkers of Colorado water.  I suspect that no visitor to the park will be affected.  And the tribes around the park……they will speak for themselves….at least one hopes so. 

But that is not the point.  Let us face facts:  we do not need more little uranium mines in every corner of the county, state, country, and globe, just because the uranium is there and somebody can make an unregulated buck out of it. 

I am in favor of uranium mining.  I believe nuclear power is the best way to be energy independent. But I do not favor unbridled greed in mining every uranium spot just because it is there. 

I have seen and cleaned-up many uranium mine sites in the southwest including Mexican Hat, Ambrosia Lake, Tuba City, and more.   I have seen what people in a hurry do when they mine uranium.  I know what it takes to clean up their mess. 

And today I share office space with the boys who shut down their Colorado uranium mine when the price fell.  They are nice kids and energetic.  But they are opportunistic and care not a whit for the American landscape in the long-term.

To be energy-independent we need uranium.  But there are many places right now where the stuff is available in vast quantities, well beyond our current needs or even what we will need when, if ever, we are energy-independent.  Don’t muddle your thinking with the pernicious influence of speculators in decrying the published cost and shortage of uranium. 

Ever since I consulted to lawyers working for a large landfill operator and saw how they manipulated the press into creating the impression of a shortage of landfill space so that they could get their permits for a new one, I have discounted reports of shortages coming from interested industry groups. 

No. We must face the fact that this change of regulations to make it easier to go poking around the Grand Canyon pretending to look for uranium, is no more than just another blatant benefit passed out by the fading Bush dynasty to friends, relations, and supporters.  This is just another of the disgraceful favors that the majority of voters rejected in the last election.  This is another act in the string of deregulation to benefit the influential; another in the string of deregulation that brought the financial and auto systems of this country to their knees. 

This is the dying scream of greed and anger of a wounded eagle that thought it had the country for ever in its right-wing grasp.   But beware for they are still there and greedy and influential.  They do not seek to create mining jobs.  They do not need more uranium from sacred ground.  They just want a fast buck and a nice place to go vacation on public lands.  And finally to leave site cleanup to the taxpayer and bailouts.