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House bills protect us from mine Print

by Howard M. Williams
Fort Collins Coloradoan
February 12, 2008

The predictable whining, wailing and moaning of uranium mining companies have begun, following the announcement of two pieces of legislation recently at the Capitol, House Bill 1161, and House Bill 1165.

They are water protection bills presented by Republicans and Democrats. This is a nonpartisan issue. Uranium mining close to populated areas of Weld County in a drinking water aquifer will adversely affect 40,000 ranchers, farmers and rural people (regardless of their political affiliation) and potentially many future Front Range communities. Those bills put the burden of responsibility on the mining company to prove that what they intend to do is safe for the health of our environment and our residents. Plus this legislation makes mining companies accountable for damages and clean up costs following mining. The taxpayers will appreciate not having to pay for mining disasters, such as the Summitville disaster a few years ago. HB 1161 and HB 1165 places greater authority in the hands of local authorities for land use permits rather than in the hands of state or federal agencies. This should appeal to everyone statewide.

We have had several "open" Town Hall meetings organized so the residents, elected officials and the mining company could openly discuss the proposed mine. During one of these meeting at the Nunn Community Center this past July, organized by Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, she personally asked Powertech officials about groundwater safety and other environmental issues. Following more than an hour discussion of these issues, she announced that she had listened to both sides and concluded that Powertech had not provided her with the assurances of protection for these issues sufficient for her support of their Centennial Project. Thank you, Rep. Musgrave.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and several Texas county officials have said all along that in-situ mining in a drinking water aquifer tends to contaminate that ground water with irreversible damage. Therefore, it should not be attempted in our drinking water. Pat Calhoun, President of the Goliad, Texas County Farm Bureau, agrees that in-situ leach mining in someone's drinking water aquifer is like a surgeon removing a tumor from your brain with a meat clever. Both operations are successful except the patient dies following surgery, and the aquifer dies during and following the mining.

Pardon me, but we do not want this to happen to us or to the residents of any Colorado community. The current proposal to mine uranium in Weld County so close to large population areas and in our drinking water is a huge mistake on the part of the mining company. Those who have invested in this company have made a mistake, as well. There are other investment opportunities for uranium mining in Colorado that will not adversely affect communities such as ours. I would suggest you invest in them.

Present elected political officials, I urge you to support HB 1161and 1165 for the good of all state residents. My fellow Coloradoans, I suggest that you call or write to your elected district officials, as well as county, state and federal representatives and senators. The mining industry has had a free hand in reaping huge profits in Colorado at our expense in the past. Let's put a stop to that now. For comprehensive, up-to-the-minute information on these issues, go to or

Howard M. Williams lives in Carr.

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