Hatch Lambastes Administration’s ‘War on Energy Development’

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Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) lambasted President Obama’s move to put thousands of uranium mining jobs on hold in southern Utah and northern Arizona, site of some of America’s richest uranium reserves.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Monday that the Obama administration will continue to stall uranium mining activity in the region. The current two-year moratorium on 1 million acres is set to expire in July.

“Once again we have a Democratic administration using the rim of the Grand Canyon as a backdrop to killing jobs in Southern Utah,” Hatch said. “If any further proof was required about this Administration’s war on energy development in the West, this should put any lingering doubt to rest. With this decision, the President is putting 4,000 jobs and $30 billion worth of economic activity on hold.  He is also breaking faith with southern Utah and northern Arizona by breaching a longstanding bipartisan agreement to allow uranium mining in the area. This is unconscionable.

“We have a president who says he wants to create jobs and attack climate change, but then puts our nation’s best source of uranium off-limits, thus killing thousands of high-paying rural jobs,” Hatch continued. “I have never seen a bigger disconnect between a President’s stated goals and his actions. As was the case with the establishment of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996, this Administration is killing jobs for Utahns, without input from Congress or from the stakeholders who will be impacted the most.”

Hatch noted that wind and solar power, while carbon free, do not provide enough power that utilities or distribution can use to meet customers’ minimum demands. Nuclear energy, distributed by more than 100 commercial plants in 30 states, is one of a few sources of carbon-free base power that can be increased to meet customers’ requirements.

“We were hoping for some certainty for the uranium industry and its stakeholders so that this important work could go forward in a safe and environmentally sound manner,” Hatch said. “Instead, we now have more uncertainty than ever, and a very confused energy policy coming out of the Obama administration. I was under the impression that the President was for green energy jobs. Well, these projects would have created about 4,000 green energy jobs in southern Utah and led to the reopening of an existing uranium mill in Garfield County. This decision effectively sabotages that. It also increases our near-total reliance on uranium from foreign nations.

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