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Uranium Mining Bill Heads to House

February 20, 2011

Senate Bill 158 made it out of the Senate last week. We need to stop it in the House! This bill is moving very quickly, so we need to act fast.

SB 158 would remove state regulation of in situ leach uranium mining. At the Senate hearing, the only people who spoke for the bill were Powertech Uranium Corp. employees. This company wants to mine in the southern Black Hills. State regulators have been holding the company to the law, so the company is trying to do away with state regulation.

Uranium exploration has taken place all around the Black Hills and in the southeastern part of the state. So passage of this bill would impact a wide area. We need to re-double our efforts. Please contact your own House members—and any others you have time to contact—TODAY and ask them to vote against SB 158!

You may also want to focus attention on members of the House State Affairs Committee, which will see the bill next.

Following is a list of concerns about removing the state regulations on uranium mining.

  1. SB 158 would remove state regulation on in situ leach uranium mining, a dangerous, radioactive industry that always pollutes water. This would remove an important safety net for people across the state.
  2. State regulations do not duplicate federal regulations. State regulations are more detailed and—among other things—give the public a chance to be heard in the permitting process, require notification in case of an accident, insure that in situ mine facilities are built according to strict safety standards, and insure that mine sites are cleaned up properly.
  3. A Canadian uranium company put this bill forward and was the only entity to testify for the bill in the Senate Committee hearing. The bill is obviously self-serving and would benefit a foreign corporation at the expense of South Dakota residents.
  4. This bill would turn regulation over to the federal government. Why should we give regulation of this industry over to the federal government, when we know federal regulations are not necessarily best for South Dakota or South Dakotans? If we wish to cut regulation, we should work to have federal rules suspended.
  5. The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources is doing a good job of regulating the mining permit process. This is why a uranium company wants to suspend state regulation.
  6. Federal government offices are in Denver and Chicago. How quickly will they get here when there are the inevitable spills and leaks?
  7. According to the DENR, this legislation would not save the State any money.
  8. The company pushing this bill, like most uranium companies active in the state, is small, new and financially unstable. The company has been on the edge financially for some time. Private investors withdrew their support, and the stock now sells at 50 cents a share. We need to safeguard our state Treasury by protecting against operators that could leave an expensive mess behind.

This bill, initiated and supported by a single company, is a desparate attempt by that company to stay alive—at the expense of those who depend on quality groundwater for their livelihood and their lives.


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