Uranium Firm Urged Trump Officials to Shrink Bears Ears National Monument →

Ju­liet Eilper­in re­port­ing for The Wash­ing­ton Post:

In­teri­or Sec­ret­ary Ry­an Zinke and top Utah Re­pub­lic­ans have said re­peatedly that ques­tions of min­ing or drilling played no role in Pres­id­ent Trump’s an­nounce­ment Monday that he was cut­ting the site by more than 1.1 mil­lion acres, or 85 per­cent. Trump also signed a pro­clam­a­tion nearly halv­ing the Grand Stair­case-Es­cal­ante Na­tion­al Monu­ment, which is also in south­ern Utah and has sig­ni­fic­ant coal de­pos­its.

“This is not about en­ergy,” Zinke told re­port­ers Tues­day. “There is no mine with­in Bears Ears.”

But the na­tion’s sole urani­um pro­cessing mill sits dir­ectly next to the bound­ar­ies that Pres­id­ent Barack Obama des­ig­nated a year ago when he es­tab­lished Bears Ears. The doc­u­ments show that En­ergy Fuels Re­sources (USA) Inc., a sub­si­di­ary of a Ca­na­dian firm, urged the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to lim­it the monu­ment to the smal­lest size needed to pro­tect key ob­jects and areas, such as ar­che­olo­gic­al sites, to make it easi­er to ac­cess the ra­dio­act­ive ore.

So they were ly­ing about re­source ex­trac­tion in Bears Ears. I am not the least bit sur­prised.

What al­ways struck me, though, even be­fore this re­port, is that no one was even try­ing to claim there wasn’t go­ing to be any min­ing in Grand Stair­case-Es­cal­ante. Of course shrink­ing that monu­ment was all about min­ing: spe­cific­ally coal in the Kaiparow­its Plat­eau. But even if the monu­ment shrinks are up­held by the courts, there’s a chance that coal min­ing still won’t hap­pen; des­pite Trump’s quix­ot­ic quest to bring back coal, the de­mand for it keeps drop­ping.

But Kaiparow­its does have real treas­ure un­der the ground worth dig­ging up: fossils.