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Sat, May 08

Mohave County makes case for mining

Buster Johnson, chairman of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors, penned a letter of support for uranium mining in the Arizona Strip. (Photo by Agata Popeda/Kingman Miner)

Buster Johnson, chairman of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors, penned a letter of support for uranium mining in the Arizona Strip. (Photo by Agata Popeda/Kingman Miner)

KINGMAN – The Mohave County Board of Supervisors sent a letter of support for Rep. Paul Gosar’s proposed amendment to H.R. 803 – the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2021. The amendment would exclude lands in the 4th Congressional District of Arizona from the mineral withdrawal provisions under the act.

The letters were sent to Gosar and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy on Feb. 24.

Gosar’s amendment failed in Washington on Feb. 26, when the U.S. House of Representatives voted to permanently outlaw new uranium mining on about one million acres around the Grand Canyon.

The measure was approved by the House and failed to advance in the Senate two years ago, but now could have a better chance with Democrats controlling the chamber.

“This board has always supported uranium mining and opposed any legislation that seeks to make the 20-year moratorium on uranium withdrawals in the Arizona Strip area permanent,” wrote Chairman Buster Johnson in a memo to the board. “The 20-year moratorium was a devastating move to our local economy and any permanent ban will drastically hinder economic growth in the future. Mohave County stands to lose roughly $29 billion to our local economy over a 42-year period.”

In the letter, Johnson wrote to Gosar that “the language of your amendment would help alleviate the permanent economic loss we would sustain under the passage of H.R. 803. ... Without this amendment, the financial stability of our economy in Mohave County would drastically suffer.”

Johnson has been critical of the 2012 ban the Secretary of the Interior imposed on over one million acres of land in the Arizona Strip for uranium mining.

“This ban took away much-needed growth and jobs from our area,” Johnson wrote. He added the ban was issued without complying with the law requiring coordination with local governments and was “based on misinformation.”

“We respect and take a responsibility for protecting the Grand Canyon, but saying that the Grand Canyon will suffer because of mining is inaccurate,” the letter continues. “Secretary Salazar's reasoning behind the withdrawal was out of concern that it could damage the region's drinking water and the park's water quality. Bureau of Land Management officials contradicted those claims by explaining that their Arizona Strip field office had no evidence of contamination of water, and had no evidence of problems with the safe operation of the uranium mines in operation on the lands.”

The letter addresses the importance of domestic uranium mining for national security and national defense.

“These deposits represent the last available use of our public lands for economic growth in our region,” Johnson wrote.

The letter claims uranium mining was conducted from the early 1980s to 1993 with environmentally sound reclamation, and that modern uranium mining does not affect groundwater or natural resources.

Mining uranium no longer requires open pit mining and the land is placed back into its original state.

“Arizona needs to go back to the roots that led to Arizona being developed, and that is mining,” the letter reads. “Nuclear energy can be the future of clean energy.”

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