DENY ALL PERMITS - Fort Collins City Council sends unanimous message to EPA, State of Colorado, and Weld County
Citizens, city staff, council members act to protect future of city
Posted December 7, 2007
On the evening of December 4, 2007, the City Council of Fort Collins, Colorado voted 7-0 to oppose Powertech Uranium Corp.'s Centennial/Indian Springs project. The proposed project would likely include open pit mining on a site located only 11 miles from downtown Fort Collins, northern Colorado's largest city with a population of 130,000.
Twenty-six citizens stepped to the podium to express opposition to the uranium mining proposal. Only three people defended the mining project. Two of the three are employed by Powertech.
The resolution was initially requested by council member Lisa Poppaw (photo at left), who succinctly stated her position on the issue: "We are not going to accept the potential implications to our health, our environment, and our economic health before we come out and say that this is not OK."
In early information released by the city, there was no city staff recommendation regarding the resolution. However, when asked about this by a council member, City Manager Darin Atteberry responded that staff recommended approval of the resolution, explaining "based on information we have, I think that it's fair to say that the staff has very strong concerns."
Council member and former CSU math professor Ben Manvel (photo below) made a forceful statement to the assembled audience in the council chambers and those watching on television and the internet, excerpted here:
I don't think there's any question that having the uranium mine within a few miles of 300,000 people makes no sense economically for us. The people, the real estate market, the economic vitality of our community does not thrive with uranium less than 10 miles away...
I am thoroughly convinced that the science argues for this resolution...
I don't think we have Powertech stepping forward and putting up a bond that says if anybody is ever harmed by this the money is there to pay off, to fix that damage. It's not going to happen...
There's going to be a short term benefit; there's going to be a long term cost...
At the beginning of the permitting process we want to make it clear that we are inalterably opposed to this for economic reasons as well as environmental and health reasons, and we hope every community in the area will join us in this effort as well as the Colorado health associations and that Powertech gets the idea that this spot, I mean Powertech may be a great outfit, but this spot is not the spot, it's not going to happen.
There was some debate among council members about the level of research and analysis conducted by city staff during the process of drafting the resolution. Two members of the council, Mayor Doug Hutchinson and Council Member Wade Troxell, complained that insufficient data was supplied to council members by staff prior to the meeting.
Troxell pointedly asked city environmental planner Brian Woodruff if staff had brought a map of the proposed project. When Woodruff said no, members of the audience began to offer maps, and other council members passed a map to Troxell. After the meeting, Troxell indicated that he had in fact visited this website prior to the meeting. A link to maps of the project area is prominently displayed on the top of the home page.
While Troxell acknowledged "there are some legitimate concerns that have been expressed here tonight", he was upset that more information was not provided by staff and that he had to collect project information from the internet. Other council members did not mention this being a problem and seemed to be able to formulate an informed opinion on their own.
Powertech representatives objected to the fact that city staff did not meet with company officials before drafting the resolution. Staff did not meet with project opponents either, a fact that was not particularly concerning to opponents. Woodruff did, however, access the extensive information included on Powertech's website as well as nunnglow.com and this website.
When the question was called, six council members voted yes. Troxell abstained, and the city attorney explained that under the City Charter, an abstention is counted as an affirmative vote. Thus, the vote was recorded as 7-0.
Council Member Kelly Ohlson, a strong supporter of the resolution, made a point of asking the City Manager about staff's plans to communicate the resolution to the various regulatory bodies that will consider any mining permit applications submitted by Powertech. Atteberry responded that he would send it to the agencies and report back to the council.
Council to take up debate on uranium mine - Jason Kosena
Powertech swings back at council - Steve Porter