A nuclear power boom could lead to more uranium mining in Colorado. Environmental groups want more oversight, groundwater protection and public disclosure.
Watchdog group wants more public involvement, state sets April 15 public hearing to discuss rules on uranium mining, disclosure of exploratory activities and groundwater protection
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — An upcoming public hearing will help state officials finalize a new set of rules aimed boosting regulatory oversight of mining, especially in the areas of groundwater protection and public involvement in the early phases of mining and exploration.
The rules could benefit Summit County by requiring up-front notification of exploratory activities, said Jeff Parsons, an attorney with the Lyons-based Western Action Mining Project. According to Parsons, there is currently a permit for uranium exploration in Summit County, but little is known about the activity because of existing levels of confidentiality.
Summit County could create its own permitting process for prospecting and mineral exploration, Parsons said, explaining that such a step would give citizens more information about potential mining at the earliest stages. The new rules would also apply to other types of mining.
The rulemaking was triggered by passage of two new state laws in 2008. With a looming nuclear power boom, lawmakers wanted to address uranium mining in particular, Parsons said. The watchdog group advocated for stronger groundwater protection and more public involvement throughout the early stakeholder meetings that began in May 2009. So far, the process has been a model for good government and transparency, he said.
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