indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree - University of Tulsa College of Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe blasts uranium approval

Filed Under: Environment | Law | National
More on: native sun news, nrc, oglala sioux, sacred sites, south dakota, uranium
     

The following story was written and reported by Talli Nauman, Native Sun News Health & Environment Editor. All content © Native Sun News.


In Pierre: Powertech lobbyist Mark Hollenbeck literally takes a seat in the South Dakota legislature while talking with members of the House of Representatives. COURTESY/Sabrina King

Oglala Sioux Tribe takes feds to task for snubbing sacred sites in uranium mining endorsement
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News
Health & Environment Editor

WASHINGTON. — The Oglala Sioux Tribe is taking legal action against the U.S. government for recommending approval of foreign uranium mining operations upstream from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation before completing mandatory analysis of sacred sites on ancestral lands.

“The strategy seems to be ‘approve now, analyze later’,” the tribe’s attorney, Jeffrey Parsons, told the Native Sun News. “We think that’s bad science, and we think it’s illegal,” he said in a Jan. 31 interview.

One day earlier, on Jan. 30, The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff announced its final supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) recommending approval of Powertech Uranium Corp.’s proposed Dewey-Burdock in-situ leach mining and milling project on 10,000 acres in Custer and Fall River counties adjacent to the South Dakota reservation.

“The report concludes there are no environmental impacts that would preclude licensing the facility,” the NRC staff said in an announcement from Washington, D.C.

However, in order to make the announcement, the agency separated the required review of the project’s impacts on historic and cultural resources, providing the public an additional two weeks to comment on sacred sites before a Feb. 14 deadline.

Staff noted that a license cannot be issued until the cultural resources process is completed, due to the National Historic Preservation Act.

In light of the recommendation, the Oglala Sioux Tribe is filing arguments this month against the separation and other conclusions of the SEIS, according to Parsons, the tribe’s attorney in the four-year-old contested administrative case hearings before the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board.

“They’ve used this bifurcated tactic as a way to evade their duties under the National Environmental Protection Act,” Parsons said. The act requires that the cultural analysis be included in the draft impact report, but it was not, he said.

“My suspicion is that the company has pressed NRC to go forward with this despite the lack of adequate study,” he said.

COMPANY LOOKING FORWARD TO PERMITS
Powertech representative Richard Clement said the agency recommendation for an operating license is based on “detailed” analysis.

“This milestone is the culmination of over four years of technical and environmental review by the agency with the greatest expertise in uranium recovery facilities,” Clement said in a written statement.

“The depth and extent of the review provides a resounding confirmation on the benefits and limited environmental impact of the project,” he said.

“This should also facilitate other final approvals from EPA and the State of South Dakota so that we can begin the hiring process and develop the project," he added.

The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board is expected to hold hearings in summer 2014 in western South Dakota on the recommendation and the arguments over it, as well as other objections in the contested case hearing.

The recommendation prompted lobbyists to redouble efforts in the South Dakota State Legislature on bills pertaining to local control of water rights and in-situ leach mining of uranium, which has never been conducted inside state lines.

“Our water protection bill HB 1193 is going head-to-head with the latest bad news from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” the statewide family-farm organization Dakota Rural Action said in a legislative update newsletter.

“Despite not being done with their cultural resources review, the NRC sent out a press release that they found ‘no significant environmental impacts’ to the Dewey-Burdock Project,” it said.

“This confirms what we’ve been saying all along: We can’t depend on federal agencies to protect our water and land. We need to pass our water legislation to ensure there will be no lasting harmful impacts to our water systems.”

STATE LEGISLATURE FACES BILLS ON URANIUM MINING, WATER
HB1193 would amend South Dakota law to prohibit in-situ leach uranium mining “if the proposed area lacks proper confining zones or contains geologic faults that would act as conduits for groundwater movement.”

It would allow permitting only if “a restoration demonstration” successfully shows that “waste water will not reduce the quality of groundwater.”

It would also require an operator to restore groundwater quality levels to, at least “the baseline water quality levels as reported in the restoration plan.”

Among its co-sponsors are reservation district representatives Troy Heinert and Kevin Killer.

The Dewey-Burdock proposal would generate as many as 90 jobs in the Edgemont area, if the state signs over 9,000 gallons per minute of the underground water table to Powertech.

However it “would contaminate area water, and open the door for eight other uranium companies that have an interest in the Black Hills, according to the Rapid City-based grassroots Clean Water Alliance.

“We will continue to consider all avenues for dealing with this deficient document and with proposals to mine uranium at the expense of our water,” co-founder Lilias Jarding said after the NRC announcement.

Doctors, city officials, business people, tribal leaders, ranchers, college professors, and others oppose uranium mining in the Black Hills for very good reasons,” Jarding continued: “Water is life.”

South Dakota previously had a law charging the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources with supervising underground water at mine sites. Powertech’s lobbyists, including its local representative and former state legislator Mark Hollenbeck, successfully argued to suspend that oversight and also helped prevent efforts in the 2013 legislature to reinstate it.

FOREIGN INVESTORS MOVE STATE, FEDERAL AGENDAS
Hollenbeck again is lobbying in Pierre in the 2014 legislature. Clement was moved from the position of president and CEO to that of corporate secretary during a transfer of shares and management responsibilities at Powertech in 2013. He again is listed as president and CEO in the company’s most recent written release.

The transfer put Powertech Uranium Corp. under the majority ownership of Hong Kong-based Asarga Resources, Ltd. originally under the majority ownership of Canadian investors; the corporation is represented in South Dakota by a wholly-owned subsidiary, Powertech (USA) Inc.

The foreign investors helped convince DENR oversight boards on water and mining to hold hearings on various contested state permits in 2013. By years end both boards’ suspended hearings pending federal decisions.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe is among 23 tribal governments involved in required federal consultation on decisions about the preservation of the cultural and historic sites in the proposed mining and milling area.

The tribes insist on taking part in a survey of sacred sites on the entire property, but the company has only provided resources for non-Indian surveys of a much more limited geographic scope.

“These cultural resource issues are certainly serious, but equally serious are the groundwater contamination issues,” Parsons said.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe contends that Powertech should produce baseline water data for consideration in the permitting process.

The NRC staff recommendation of SEIS approval allows the company to conduct the baseline studies after its permits are granted, which means “that data will be excluded from public scrutiny,” Parsons noted.

The NRC staff formally has objected to admitting each and every contention the tribe has filed in the case, including the tribe’s argument that it has an interest in the impact of the proposal.

The licensing board has ruled against the staff in about half the cases, admitting a dozen or so contentions to be argued in the upcoming hearings.

NRC staff is soliciting public comments be submitted by emailing Dewey-Burdock_SEIS_Comments.Resource@nrc.gov.

(Contact Talli Nauman Health and Environment Editor for NSN at talli.nauman@gmail.com)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tribe questions fast-tracking of solar energy projects by Obama (9/4)
Navajo Nation celebrates closure of liquor businesses in Arizona (9/4)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe seeks building inspector for casino (9/4)
Native Sun News: Black Hills concert draws attention to treaties (9/4)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe approves FEMA contract (9/4)
Mark Trahant: Telling the story about tribal sovereignty in Alaska (9/4)
James Giago Davies: Imagining life for the Lakota with British rule (9/4)
Robert DesRosier: First responder network needs input from tribes (9/4)
Julianne Jennings: Strong reaction to campaign for Justice or Else (9/4)
Member of Nez Perce Tribe helped develop video game character (9/4)
Travel: Every member of Havasupai Tribe speaks their language (9/4)
Alabama won't appeal decision in Poarch Creek gaming lawsuit (9/4)
Osage Nation weighs plan to expand flagship casino with hotel (9/4)
Sycuan Band enters new Class III gaming compact in California (9/4)
Chukchansi Tribe revamping casino in anticipation of reopening (9/4)
President of Alaska Native village highlights threat to community (9/3)
President Barack Obama offers thoughts on historic trip to Alaska (9/3)
President Obama enjoys unique welcome in Alaska Native village (9/3)
Transcript: President Obama speaks in Native village of Kotzebue (9/3)
Democrats slam GOP candidate for comments about assimilation (9/3)
Poarch Creeks secure major ruling in gaming dispute in Alabama (9/3)
Native Sun News: City faces possible suit from Lakota 57 parents (9/3)
Lakota Country Times: Sinte Gleska University to expand campus (9/3)
Tim Giago: Republicans show hypocrisy on the 14th Amendment (9/3)
Ivan Star: 'English education' obliterated culture and language (9/3)
Gyasi Ross: Obama's checkered record on Native environment (9/3)
Opinion: Indian Child Welfare Act doesn't help Indian children (9/3)
Appeal planned in Grand Ronde Tribes disenrollment dispute (9/3)
Blackfeet Nation states opposition to drilling on sacred land (9/3)
Father of Native woman who died in jail cell considers lawsuit (9/3)
Oglala Sioux Tribe set to open $16.5M nursing home next year (9/3)
Donald Trump's campaign manager linked to Abramoff scandal (9/3)
Navajo Nation plans big development next to casino in Arizona (9/3)
Graton Rancheria breaks ground on $175M expansion at casino (9/3)
United Auburn Indian Community compact gains quick approval (9/3)
New Mexico tribes weren't involved in off-reservation casino bid (9/3)
Parents of Lakota 57 respond to not guilty verdict in Rapid City (9/2)
Grand Ronde Tribes to disenroll 86 descendants of treaty signer (9/2)
Lakota Country Times: New food bank on Pine Ridge Reservation (9/2)
Mark Trahant: FCC invents new law for tribal lands in Oklahoma (9/2)
Native Sun News Editorial: Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton (9/2)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux Tribe needs to establish 'virtual' school (9/2)
Steven Newcomb: The religious basis of Doctrine of Discovery (9/2)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.