M&A participates in public comment process for the uranium mining DEIS in northern Arizona

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Last week, M&A participated in a series of public meetings related to a Draft EIS published on February 18. The EIS was initiated in 2009 after Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, proposed withdrawing nearly 1 million acres from operation of the Mining Law of 1872, effectively barring the processing of new claims. Held in Phoenix, Flagstaff, Fredonia, and Salt Lake City, these meetings featured poster stations staffed by the resource experts who wrote the DEIS. M&A’s Bill Victor was one of these experts. Along with Don Bills of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), he fielded many of the public’s questions about water resources.

Each meeting began with a presentation by the BLM, followed by a 15-minute “Q&A” period to answer written questions that were submitted by attendees. In addition to representatives from the mining industry, environmental groups, public, and news media, attendees included high-level staff from each cooperating agency — the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, USGS, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The DEIS describes the environmental impacts associated with each of four alternative actions. It has been hailed as a comprehensive, well-written document that is playing an important role in addressing the need for both technical content and credibility.

Two important milestones in the EIS process are imminent: the 45-day public comment period, which is slated to end on April 4, and the 2-year segregation period, which ends on July 21. If Secretary Salazar fails to select an alternative by the end of the segregation period, the subject federal parcels will be reopened to mining claims until such a decision is rendered.