Bush's Interior Department is making up its own laws now. Apparently not caring for the ones Congress passed, the Department has made up a rule that will allow it to turn over a million acres near the Grand Canyon to uranium mining:
In another regulatory action in the waning days of the Bush administration, the Interior Department on Thursday unveiled a new rule that challenges Congress’s authority to prevent mining planned on public lands.
Congress has emergency power to stop mineral development, and has used it six times in the last 32 years. The most recent was in June, when it put a three-year moratorium on uranium mining on one million acres near the Grand Canyon. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has ignored that Congressional directive, saying it was procedurally flawed.
This is one more in a string of last-minute attempts by the Department of Interior to open up federal lands to mining and oil and gas drilling.
On Election Day---when people were probably thinking about one or two other things---the Interior Department announced plans for oil and gas leases on lands adjacent to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Desolation Canyon in Utah. It gave the public until December 19 to raise objections.
Among those objecting was John Podesta, President-elect Obama's transition chief, and Rep. Raul Grijalva who sent a letter to Secretary Dirk Kempthorne objecting to the leases as a "last-minute fire sale."
Even the Interior Department's own National Park Service raised concerns about drilling rigs right next to our parks, and the BLM relented, pulling 22 of the original 90 leases.
On Tuesday, the BLM temporarily deferred leasing on some additional sites near Nine Mile Canyon, a famed archeological site with thousands of panels of Native American rock art.
So, a couple of partial and temporary wins in Utah. But there's still well over 100,000 acres there up for leasing before Bush leaves office.
And now comes the Interior Department, nullifying Congress by fiat so that it can turn over public land to uranium mining companies, and giving the public precious little time to do anything about it:
The revision of the rule eliminates all references to Congressional authority. The revision moved through the often-cumbersome rule-making process with lightning speed; it was proposed in October, and the public was given just 15 days to comment.
Want to do something about it? The Grand Canyon Trust is working to protect our public lands in and around the Grand Canyon. And the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is working to permanently protect our wilderness lands in Utah.
And if we're lucky, Raul Grijalva will be the next Secretary of Interior.