U.S. Geological Survey Removes Uranium from Critical Minerals Roster

WASHINGTON, D.C. –– The National Wildlife Federation and the Arizona Wildlife Federation applauded a decision to by the U.S. Geological Survey not to list uranium on the critical minerals roster, as proposed by the previous administration.

“Given the importance of nuclear energy as a zero-emission source of power, the U.S. must reckon with its catastrophic legacy of uranium mining that has harmed the health and safety of Tribal communities, wildlife, and drinking water supplies across the Southwest,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We absolutely need a secure supply of uranium through much more aggressive recycling efforts and responsible development with stringent safeguards, while fulfilling President Biden’s commitment to remediate abandoned uranium mines that continue to pollute lands and waters upon which people and wildlife depend. We applaud the administration for signaling that it will not include uranium on its roster of critical minerals to shortcut basic health and safety protections.”

“The Trump administration’s push to classify uranium as a critical mineral was a thinly veiled attempt to evade environmental protections in the permitting of mines near some of our nation’s most treasured landscapes, including the Grand Canyon and Bears Ears National Monument,” said Scott Garlid, executive director of the Arizona Wildlife Federation. “The United States has a shameful legacy of uranium extraction in Arizona that exposed Indigenous communities, wildlife, and our water supplies to unacceptable threats. We cannot repeat that mistake, which cost taxpayers billions of dollars in cleanup and left Native American Tribes with a myriad of negative health impacts."

Uranium mining in the Southwest has been a controversial chapter in our nation’s history, with uranium that once supported the Cold War leaving a toxic legacy of health issues for Native Americans, according to a recent study from the National Institutes of Health.


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