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Uranium Alert! Senate Bill 158 Erases In-Situ Leach Mining Rules

February 8, 2011

Senate Bill 158 was introduced amidst a flurry of last-minute in the South Dakota Legislature last week. This is apparently an attempt to sneak a very bad bill past the public.

Bottom line: the bill would stop enforcement of state regulations on in situ leach uranium mining. Two types of regulation by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources—water management and minerals mining regulation—would be stopped.

Companies could still be issued permits to mine. But the state would not have any control over any of these mining operations. For example, there would be no state requirements for public notice, proper construction, safe operation, accident reports, or clean-up after the mining ended.

This bill is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee on Thursday, February 10, at 10:00 a.m.. Please write e-mails to these legislators on this issue now!

Here are some of the points to make to the seven committee members:

  1. The State wrote uranium mining regulations for a reason—this is a dangerous type of mining that always pollutes water.
  2. Water has never been returned to its original condition after in situ leach uranium mining. Clearly, we need careful regulation to protect South Dakota’s water.
  3. The bill would leave all oversight of in situ leach uranium mining to federal agencies, which do not necessarily know the specifics of mining here or have South Dakota’s best interests in mind.
  4. The State has the right to regulate uranium mining, and this bill would deprive us of that right.
  5. Citizens of South Dakota have passed laws through our legislature indicating that we want this radioactive, dangerous mining to be regulated by the State.
  6. The requirement that companies post bonds to insure that their operations are cleaned up would be lifted by this legislation. The state would have no recourse if a company failed to clean up after itself.
  7. Most uranium companies are from other countries. This bill would allow them to take our state’s minerals, ship them to foreign governments, and leave the U.S.—all without State protection.
  8. The uranium industry has a history of failing to clean up after itself in South Dakota, which has cost taxpayers millions of dollars. This bill would allow the industry to continue being irresponsible.
  9. Without state regulation, companies have no incentives to deal with state representatives, agency staff, or other leaders.

The seven members of the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee can all be contacted through the Legislature’s website. All you have to do is click on the Senator’s name, and it will take you to a page from which you can e-mail the Senator.

Please remember to e-mail your own legislators (two House members and one Senator) as well.

Always be respectful. We believe that most legislators simply do not understand what this bill would do.

Note that in the bill text, “toll” means “suspend.”

Thank you for your quick action!

Lilias Jones Jarding
Clean Water Alliance


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