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Bears Ears National Monument Photo: Bureau of Land Management

As part of their ongoing witch hunt against nice corporations who simply want to make America and their profits great again, House Democrats plan to investigate exactly how the Trump administration made the decision to vastly cut the size of a national monument in Utah. In particular, the House Natural Resources Committee wants to know how much of the decision was pushed by mining and other corporate interests. Roll Call brings us the radioactive dirt on a uranium company that met with Team Trump well before the administration announced it would "study" shrinking the boundaries of several national monuments established by three previous presidents.

Natural Resources chair Raúl Grijalva wants to know whether corporate greedheads gave Ryan Zinke and the Interior Department help in its decision to chop away some 85-90 percent of the Bears Ears National Monument, which Barack Obama established in 2016. Utah Republicans and representatives of extractive industries opposed Bears Ears and other monuments because there were all sorts of neat resources to dig up, and besides, there's no way to monetize scenic beauty and sacred/threatened Native American sites. As Roll Call reports, the rollback just might have had a little help from a uranium mining and processing company:


Documents show that Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc., a subsidiary of a Canadian energy firm, met with a top Interior official who would be involved with the review before Trump requested it.

When President Barack Obama designated the monument in December 2016, its boundaries encompassed or abutted over 350 uranium claims tied to the company. Its uranium processing mill, the only such facility in the United States, was located mere miles from the monument. Proximity to a national monument can lead to additional regulatory scrutiny.

And wouldn't you know it, once the administration scaled back Bears Ears, not a one of the over 100 mining claims held directly by Energy Fuels remained inside the revised boundaries. Grijalva suspects fuckery, probably because liberals just don't trust the wisdom of the marketplace:

He said if an individual involved with the review met with Energy Fuels before the review began, "all my suspicions as to the motivation behind the shrinkage would be validated."

"I think it would make our need to get at the bottom of it. … It would make it even more significant," he said.

Mind you, Energy Fuels is shocked, SHOCKED that anyone would suspect anything untoward might have happened, my goodness no:

Curtis Moore, Energy Fuels Resources vice president of marketing and corporate development, said in a Feb. 26 email, "Our recollection is that the April meeting was very brief, but we did inquire about the possibility of minor boundary adjustments to move the boundaries away from our existing operations."

"Nonetheless, our official request was for minor boundary adjustments that would have reduced the area of the monument by a maximum of 2.6 percent. The President reduced the monument by 85 percent. We didn't ask for that," Moore said.

Heh-heh, but we sure GOT it, now didn't we? the email did not go on to say. Critics of the decision to slash the size of the monument note that Energy Fuels also filed a letter during the "review" process

suggesting there could be many uranium deposits within the boundaries of the monument that could provide "valuable energy and mineral resources in the future."

Among other concerns, Energy Fuels warned the existing national monument boundaries would kill a planned expansion of its Daneros mine, and "could have a chilling effect on future land uses not only within but also near the monument." Despite sounding like a "Game of Thrones" location, Daneros is only 15 miles outside the monument's original boundaries, and Energy Fuels also operates a uranium milling operation just five miles from that original boundary. If the original boundaries remain, both would be subject to tighter monitoring of air and water than under the pared-down Trump boundaries.

Terrible suspicious environmental groups, along with Native American tribes, are pursuing multiple lawsuits against shrinking Bears Ears and other national monuments. Critics argue the meeting between Energy Fuels and administration officials show the cutbacks were planned to accommodate mining interests generally, and Energy Fuels in particular. What? Not a normal science and public policy review? In this administration? The deuce you say!

"The Trump Administration's agenda has always been sell out our public lands first and manufacture a rationale — predicated on false information — afterwards. This latest revelation shows yet again they don't even care to hide their dangerous motives so long as they can please the corporate polluters that have directed their every move," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement.

Knock us over with a feather. May as well make it a bald eagle feather, which will be fine to take from any eagles you choose to shoot once the Endangered Species Act is gutted.

Oh, yes, and while we're at it, you'll never guess who helped get Energy Fuels in touch with the Interior Department so it could pitch some modest reductions to the monument boundaries! It was then-lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, who went on to be appointed as deputy head of the EPA and did most of the industry-friendly regulation-chopping there while Scott Pruitt was searching the DC metro area for Trump Hotel jizz mattresses and the perfect skin lotion. Wheeler is now EPA director, and continues his important work of gutting the EPA like a leopard shot by the Trump boys.

Oh, but while he was still merely a coal and energy lobbyist, Wheeler did good work for Energy Fuels, you bet! According to documents the Sierra Club obtained through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, Wheeler did a fine job for the uranium company:

Citing his prior work on the Trump presidential campaign, Wheeler reached out to set up the meeting and attended it. His contacts with Interior during that period are not included in his lobbying disclosures. The firm he was working for, Faegre Baker Daniels, said it is reviewing those disclosures.

The Roll Call piece also includes a hilariously lawyered-up statement from an EPA spox insisting that there's nothing to see here since all that took place before Wheeler worked at the EPA and it is not EPA business so shut up.

Also too, here's the kicker: While the cuts to Bears Ears National Monument mean hundreds of uranium mining claims could now be free for exploitation by industry, it turns out Team Trump will need to do even more to pick economic winners before Energy Fuels and others can further enrich themselves and nuclear fuel:

Those deposits aren't worth much now because the price of uranium is so low. The company has said some of its mines, like Daneros, are on standby for this reason.

However, the Trump administration is weighing whether it will set tariffs on cheaper foreign imports of uranium. That effort, spurred by a petition to the Commerce Department by the firm and another company involved in uranium mining, Ur-Energy, could result in reactivating Daneros.

Isn't the "free" market a beautiful thing? Especially when maybe it gets the occasional little goose from industry's very best friends in government?

Yr Wonkette hopes Rep. Grijalva will go after these bastards like a pit bull. Hell, maybe he could persuade Trump to cancel the shrinking of Bears Ears as a way to keep Crooked Hillary from getting her hands on all our uranium. Sure, that's just a bullshit conspiracy theory, but since Trump believes it anyway, may as well make use of it.

[Roll Call]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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