Check out this article from NYC’s Indypendent mag on the effects of uranium (used for nuclear weapons and energy) mining on occupied Native land in the U.S. and Native-led anti-mining struggles. WRL and the South Asia Solidarity Initiative will be cosponsoring a panel at the Disarm Now! international conference on May 1st called “The Nuclear Cycle–the Negative Effect from Mining to Militarism.” Email WRL for more info!
OBAMA FUELS NUCLEAR RENAISSANCE
In January, the Obama administration FY2011 budget included a $54 billion dollar taxpayer loan guarantee for new nuclear reactor construction, three times what President George W. Bush promised in 2005.
“On an issue that affects our economy, our security and the future of the planet, we can’t keep on being mired in the same old stale debates between the left and the right, between environmentalists and entrepreneurs,”
Obama said about nuclear power in the State of the Union. He did not mention the impacts of mining and processing.
Currently, there are 104 nuclear reactors in operation in the United States that meet approximately 20 percent of the total U.S. electricity demand. In 2009, there were 17 uranium mines in operation producing more than 3.8 million tons of uranium oxide annually, according to U.S. Department of Energy statistics. Of the 50 former and present uranium milling sites across a dozen states, 24 have been abandoned and are now the responsibility of the Energy Department.
President Obama announced Feb. 16 that the Energy Department had approved $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees for Southern Company and its partners to construct twin reactors in Georgia. Authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the loan guarantee programs are structured so that if the reactors are built and operate profitably, the borrowers pay the government a fee and repay the banks for the loan. However, if the borrowers default on the loan — which critics say is incredibly risky for the taxpayers — the federal government will repay the bank.
Since 2007, 17 companies or groups of companies have sought licenses from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for 26 more reactors with plans to complete four by 2018 and up to eight by 2020. New reactors are estimated to cost more than $12 billion each. The last nuclear power plant in the U.S. was built in 1977.
“The demand for the fuel will expand in the future, especially with the emphasis on control of greenhouse gases,” Arizona Mines Department Director Singh said. “There are 436 reactors in operation in the world; another 433 are in development or on the drawing boards. It is evident that the demand for uranium will be strong in the coming years.”
Obama said, “Nuclear energy remains our largest source of fuel that produces no carbon emissions.”
“Obama’s support for nuclear energy is misguided and destructive federal policy,” said Stacy Hamburg of the Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club. “The nuclear energy cycle is destructive from start to end … and is not the solution to climate change.”
According to The Washington Post March 22, a recent Gallup poll found that 62 percent of adults surveyed said they favored nuclear energy as one way to meet national electricity needs — the highest level of support reported by Gallup.
Although nuclear energy is being touted as a solution to the current U.S. energy crisis and global warming, those more closely affected by uranium mining, transportation, processing and dumping of waste recognize the true environmental costs.
“There are six licensed commercial nuclear reactors in New York,” Hamburg said. “It is critical for people in New York City, as well as nation- and world-wide, to understand how mining uranium, possibly destined for one of these six reactors, devastates indigenous communities throughout the Southwest.”