Northern Colorado Business Report
January 17, 2008
DENVER -- A bipartisan group of Northern Colorado lawmakers on Wednesday introduced two bills designed to protect public health and property values from uranium and other mining activities.
The legislators, including Reps. Randy Fischer and John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, and Sens. Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins, Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins, and Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, announced their bills at a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the state capitol. They said the bills aim to protect state residents from potentially harmful impacts of mining activities, particularly uranium mining.
A Canadian company, Powertech USA, is preparing to seek permission from the state to use in-situ mining techniques to extract uranium in west Weld County near Nunn. The lawmakers prepared the bills in response to public concern about Powertech's plans and other companies exploring uranium mining opportunities in the state.
House Bill 1161, sponsored by Kefalas, Fischer and Johnson, would require mining companies to show they will restore groundwater aquifers to their pre-mining levels. A second bill sponsored by Fischer and Shaffer, HB 1165, would require mining companies to inform residents of mining activity taking place near them. The bill also requires local governments to protect local water sources from mining activities.
On the same day, Powertech USA issued a statement criticizing the bills being written without consulting with them.
"Today, legislation was introduced without consulting the mining industry in Colorado," the statement said. "Powertech is working with the Colorado Mining Association to study the impact of the proposed bills to the mining industry in Colorado, which contributes approximately $3 billion in direct value to Colorado's economy."
Powertech officials continue to assure the public that their operation, if approved by the state, will be safe and well-regulated.
"We continue our exploration study and will work within the regulatory process with the intent of submitting our permit application by the end of 2008," said Richard Blubaugh, Powertech's vice president of environmental, health and safety resources. "The regulatory process requires us to study the geology for five quarters to ensure the nature and safety of our proposed project."