Navajo Nation Says "NO" to Uranium Mining

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Navajo President Joe Shirley, Jr., tells congressional subcommittee Nation will not watch another generation harmed by uranium mining

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.- Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., told a Congressional subcommittee here Friday that the Navajo Nation remains opposed to uranium mining on or near its land, and will take whatever action necessary to prevent it.

"It is unconscionable to me that the federal government would consider allowing uranium mining to be restarted anywhere near the Navajo Nation when we are still suffering from previous mining activities," he said. "In response to attempts to renew uranium mining, the Navajo Nation Council passed, and I signed into law, the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act. This law places a ban on all uranium mining both within the Navajo Nation boundary, and within Navajo Indian Country."

Testifying at a joint oversight hearing before the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands at the Flagstaff City Council Chambers, President Shirley said Navajos "do not want to not sit by, ignorant of the effects of uranium mining, only to watch another generation of mothers and fathers die."

"We are doing everything we can to speak out and do something about it," he said. "We do not want a new generation of babies born with birth defects. We will not allow our people to live with cancers and other disorders as faceless companies make profits only to declare bankruptcy and then walk away from the damage they have caused, regardless of the bond they have in place."

The hearing was held to gather testimony on "Community Impacts of Proposed Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon National Park." In December 2007, the U.S. Forest Service authorized VANE Minerals, LLC, to conduct exploratory drilling for uranium three miles south of Grand Canyon National Park . The Park Service used Categorical Exclusion Category 8 to approve the drilling, which covers short-term investigations and which had limited public involvement. Consultation with tribes amounted to sending a letter.

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