In 2011, a dangerous bill passed through the legislature and was signed by the governor. It suspended all rules made by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources in regards to 'in situ' leach uranium mining.
Under the new law resulting from the 2011 Senate Bill, uranium mining companies could still be issued state permits to mine. However, there is not any state requirements about how these high-tech mines would be built, monitored, or reclaimed. The public would not have to be notified if there were accidents. Companies would not have to post a bond with the state to be sure clean-up was done. Without having a sizeable bond in place, the companies could just go bankrupt and leave (as has happened before in the Black Hills), without any protection for taxpayers. This is especially a concern because most companies that want to mine uranium here now are foreign corporations.
We contacted our Senators and asked them to do something about the dangerous bill and uranium mining in the Black Hills - to no avail.
The arguments we made are still valid today:
There was hope in 2012 - with House Bill 1098, but it did not pass. There are three Senate Bills in the 2013 South Dakota legislature that could help prevent and and/or control uranium mining in the Black Hills. Your support of these bills is imperitive!
The law removed state regulation on in situ uranium mining, a dangerous industry that always pollutes water. HOUSE BILL 1098 WOULD HAVE REVERSED THIS IF PASSED!!!
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.
A Canadian uranium company put the 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. HOUSE BILL 1098 WOULD HAVE REVERSED THIS IF PASSED!!
Uranium mining pollutes groundwater. While the water directly in a uranium deposit obviously has high levels of uranium, the surrounding groundwater may be good quality. In fact, six dozen wells are found directly in the aquifer a company wants to mine in the southern Black Hills -- and within 1-1/4 miles of the planned mine site. Many of these wells are used for livestock and for homes, and they need to be kept clean.
Why should we give regulation of this industry over to the federal government, when we know federal regulations are not necessarily best for South Dakotans? If we wish to cut regulation, we should work to have federal rules suspended.
The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources is doing a good job of regulating the mining permit process. Federal government offices are hundreds of miles away. This is why a uranium company wants to stop state regulations.
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