The American Clean Energy Resources Trust (ACERT) came into being to provide well referenced, factual and reliable sources of information about uranium—and specifically, uranium mining in northern Arizona—to both the public and our elected representatives. The need for such a group as ACERT became apparent when inaccurate, outdated and often unrelated arguments were used by a few environmental groups to influence the Secretary of the Department of the Interior to declare a two-year moratorium on uranium exploration and new mining activities in northern Arizona in order to "further study the problem." This moratorium began in July, 2009.
ACERT recognizes that most individuals are unfamiliar with uranium mining as well as its laws, exploration methods, mining techniques, reclamation processes as well as the numerous other existing federal and state regulations that pertain to it. Many may not realize that these very regulations helped make previously mined areas in northern Arizona both environmentally safe and successful. It is our hope that, as a visitor, you will find that our web site sufficiently answers any questions you may have about this issue.
Background of Uranium Mining in Northern Arizona
From the 1970s until well into the 1990s, environmentally responsible uranium exploration and mining was successfully accomplished in northern Arizona by several mining companies. They focused their efforts on extremely high grade deposits of uranium condensed into unique geologic formations called breccia pipes. During that time, almost 20 million pounds of uranium were produced and sold to utility companies, who in turn provided millions of kilowatt hours of electricity.
In the early 1990s, when drastically falling uranium prices made operations in northern Arizona economically unfeasible, the mining companies closed their operations and left the area. When they departed, there was nothing left for others to clean up: no open mine shafts, no scarred landscape and, most importantly, no remaining residues or contamination. Every square inch they had touched was completely and thoroughly reclaimed. In fact, mine reclamation was so well done that today the reclaimed sites remain completely undetectable. It is an example of how well mining can be accomplished under already existing federal and state mining laws and regulations combined with the new mining ethic that was forged during these years.
The resurgence of the American nuclear power industry in 2006 led to increased uranium ore prices. With this incentive, the uranium mining industry rebounded and again focused on the high grade uranium breccia pipe formations in northern Arizona. Soon after, some environmental groups became alarmed at what they considered a “rush for mining rights around the Grand Canyon.”
of the Moratorium
In March 2008, at the insistence of the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the Grand Canyon Trust (GCT) and the Sierra Club, Arizona Congressman, Raúl Grijalva introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. Referred to as the "Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act," the bill sought “to withdraw up to 1.1 million acres in the Tusayan Ranger District and federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the vicinity of Kanab Creek and in House Rock Valley from the location, entry and patent under the mining laws, and for other purposes.” This bill was eventually reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as HR 644 in January, 2009.
While the bill lingered in the House, the Natural Resources Committee passed a resolution to impel the then Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, to enforce Section 204(e) [Emergency Withdrawal] of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and to prohibit any new uranium exploration and/or mining activities within the 1.1 million acres of public lands in northern Arizona adjacent to the Grand Canyon National Park. Secretary Kempthorne did not deem the situation to be an emergency and, therefore, refused to move on it.
Having failed in their efforts, by September, 2009, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the Grand Canyon Trust (GCT) and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against both Interior Secretary Kempthorne and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to compel them to declare an emergency withdrawal. In December, 2008, the Department of the Interior (DOI) published a Final Rule in the Federal Register denying the emergency withdrawal.
In July, 2009, newly appointed Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, issued a Notice of Proposed Withdrawal for approximately 1 million acres. The purported purpose of the withdrawal was “to protect the Grand Canyon watershed from adverse effects of locatable hard rock mineral exploration and mining.” (Federal Register Notice, July 21, 2009). A two-year moratorium was placed on all exploration, new claims, exploration drilling and mine development in northern Arizona so as to further “study the problem.”
ACERT’s Viewpoint on the Issue
At a time when almost every country in the world, including the United States, is advocating the construction of more nuclear power plants in an effort to drastically reduce carbon emissions, opponents of uranium mining in northern Arizona call for the complete closure of these rich uranium deposits. Calling for this withdrawal is diametrically opposed to President Obama's call to develop more nuclear power plants. The inconsistency ("disconnect") between two different governmental departments has been duly noted and commented upon by 13 U.S. Senators—over 10% of the entire Senate. Without the fuel (uranium) to power new and existing nuclear electric generating plants, there can be no nuclear energy. It is that simple.
It is for these reasons that the American Clean Energy Resources Trust (ACERT) is committed to informing the public as well as our elected representatives about the true facts. ACERT opposes the establishment of this withdrawal and is committed to supporting the uranium mining activities, which should now be taking place in northern Arizona and are not.
We encourage you to browse through and read the information on our web site. We believe that the factual, well documented and truthful information about uranium mining in northern Arizona (as well as uranium mining in general) contained on our site will help you to better form your own opinion about the best course of action for our nation.
It is time to look at our energy future both realistically and without emotion. Uranium exploration and mining and maintaining a healthy environment are not incompatible; they are not adversaries. We can have both the uranium we need as well as a healthy environment, good jobs and much needed local, state and federal tax revenues. The environmentally successful uranium mining that was accomplished in northern Arizona from the 1970s onward proves this to be so.
The American Clean Energy Resources Trust believes that knowledge is crucial to sound decision making, and will, therefore, strive to constantly expand upon both the quality and quantity of information visitors can expect when they visit our site.