Durango Telegraph - In search of disclosure â?? Groups push BLM for facts
In search of disclosure â?? Groups push BLM for facts

Watchdogs and opponents of the local uranium renaissance are toiling away on another, more unusual, front. Two separate groups are continuing to work to get the Bureau of Land Management, one of the entities charged with regulating uranium mining, to disclose documents related to its impacts on Southwest Colorado.

Local uranium mining got a big nudge in the summer of 2007 when the Department of Energy and BLM announced the Uranium Leasing Program. At that time, the agencies opened 27,000 additional acres in San Miguel, Montrose and Mesa counties to prospectors seeking the radioactive ore. Estimates claimed that the new mines could produce 2 million tons of unrefined uranium per year.

However, even prior to the 2007 release, the Colorado Environmental Coalition and the Information Network for Responsible Mining saw problems with the agencies’ leasing program. In 2006, they filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests regarding the environmental analysis of potential impacts. Three years later and after the conclusion of the process, the BLM has yet to comply.

“These requests were made in 2006 to help the public participate in the environmental process,” said Travis Stills, of the Energy Minerals Law Center. “Here we are in 2009, and they continue to dribble out documents but only under the threat of contempt. That’s not the way the process should work.”

Two weeks ago, District Judge John Kane again threatened to hold BLM officials in contempt for failing to release records. The BLM did meet its July 2 deadline and disclosed additional information. The CEC and INFORM are reviewing the response.

– Will Sands

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