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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.

Originally posted to willyr on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:05 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Bush's daddy did the same thing for Barrick Gold (0+ / 0-)

    and then they went to Tanzania and buried some miners alive.

    And exactly 2 years to the date after that...the U.S. Embasssies blew up in Tanzania and Kenya.  

    So, Clinton bombed a pharmacuetical plant in Sudan.  

    And almost two years to the date after that, Sudan sponsored the USS Cole attack.

    Bush leased Barrick Gold Billions of dollars worth of gold laden land for $10,000.  What a deal!!!

  •  Grijavla's reaction (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, Abra Crabcakeya

    In a written statement Thursday, Grijalva said the last-minute change was part of a strategy by the Bush administration to avoid complying with the resolution.

    "I will continue to fight this rule change and all midnight regulations to roll back protections for our environment which are coming down the pike before the new administration is sworn in," he said.


    Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

    by willyr on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:37:10 AM PST

  •  I'd love to see the incoming administration (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    willyr, marina

    warn any would-be lease purchasers that any sales may be invalidated and all moneys invested would be forfeited.  That might make them pause, or if they still risked the money, I'd love to see Interior go ahead and cancel them next year.  They wouldn't be able to claim they hadn't known it was a big gamble.

    •  Others are thinking the same thing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, ColoTim

      "It seems ludicrous to be considering new lease sites when it will more than likely be a directive in the Obama administration that we look at alternative energy sources," said Dave Nimkin, regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association.

      Land Letter, December 4, 2008 (Sub required)

      Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

      by willyr on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:23:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  At present, revoking the leases (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      willyr, ColoTim

      if they are sold (Dec. 19 for Utah, IIRC) they will sue and keep on litigating for years. Still, perhaps Obama could put a moratorium on drilling.

      •  Obama'd more likely put a moratorium on new lease (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, ColoTim

        sales (rather than drilling) since there a huge number of unused leases throughout the West--especially Utah--that the oil and gas companies are putting in their back pockets.

        Hopefully part of a new Energy plan would be a "use it or lose it" provision like Rep. Maurice Hinchey has proposed, so that companies can't stockpile leases.

        Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

        by willyr on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:54:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Meanwhile, protests pour in on Utah lease sales (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The conservation groups object to leasing around Desolation and Labyrinth canyons, a favorite of Green River rafters, and other parcels near Canyonlands National Park. They were joined by the Colorado-based Outdoor Industry Association, which filed its own objections.

    "Our businesses and livelihoods rely on the remote nature of these stretches of river and their abundance of wildlife, natural quiet, clean air, dark skies and wild qualities," said Amy Roberts, vice president of government affairs for the organization, which represents 4,000 manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

    Separately, the fishermen's group Trout Unlimited said it was objecting to lease sales near the remote Deep Creek Mountains in Utah's western desert. Trout Unlimited says drilling threatens recovery programs for native Bonneville cutthroat trout.

    Salt Lake Tribune


    The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership's protest centers on 188,000 acres of fish and wildlife habitat in Utah. Other groups -- including the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance, Nine Mile Canyon Coalition, Utah Rock Art Research Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, focus on the archaeological, historic and natural resources of the greater Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin that spans the Utah-Nevada state line.


    Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

    by willyr on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:18:18 AM PST

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