introduce mining legislation
State legislators aim to tighten regulations
BY JASON KOSENA JasonKosena@ coloradoan.com
January 17, 2008
DENVER - Robin Davis is concerned enough about a uranium mine proposed
10 miles northeast of Fort Collins that she made a special trip to the
state Capitol on Wednesday to take a stand.
Davis, a Nunn rancher, stood with the Fort Collins contingent of state
legislators as it introduced new legislation aimed at tightening mining
regulations in Colorado - regulations that could have a direct impact
on the proposed Powertech (USA) Mining Corp. uranium mine outside Fort
The new legislation would require uranium miners to prove they could
return groundwater to pre-mining conditions. It would also lift the
confidentiality clause of existing state law that doesn't require
companies to disclose mine prospecting during exploratory phases.
Water testing under the new law would be completed by a third-party
contractor approved by the state - a shift from current state law,
which requires the mining company itself to complete the testing.
"The uranium industry has shown a historical pollution of water
aquifers, and so we are concerned for the children that we have coming
to our house, and our livestock is at risk," said Davis, who owns land
near the proposed site. "This is legislation that will protect our
water quality and will help hold the uranium mining industry
accountable for any pollutants that may be released into our water
Responding to the criticism lobbed at the Canadian-based Powertech
throughout the news conference, spokesman Pete Webb said, "Powertech
Uranium is reserving comment on the proposed legislation until it is
able to analyze the impact it might have on Powertech's proposed
project, as well as how any change in the law may affect mining
production overall in Colorado."
Webb said the last time Colorado amended mining legislation in 1993,
lawmakers sought input from the mining industry to study the
environmental and economic impacts. He was disappointed the industry
wasn't consulted about the legislation introduced Wednesday.
Fort Collins Democratic Reps. Randy Fischer and John Kefalas, as well
as Sens. Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins, and Steve Johnson, R-Larimer
County, are sponsoring the proposed legislation, calling it one of the
most important issues facing Fort Collins and Northern Colorado.
Citing uranium prices that have skyrocketed from $7 a pound in 2000 to
around $90 a pound today and a 230 percent increase in mining claims in
Colorado during the last four years, Fischer said it's time for the
Legislature to take action.
"We're on the verge of another mining boom," Fischer said. "As a
result, (lawmakers) have a responsibility to take action to protect
public health, private property and our scarce groundwater supplies
that are (seeing) new risks posed by modern mining technologies. We are
obligated to enact new 21st-century laws to meet the risks posed by
Johnson said the legislation does not aim to take away the right of
companies to mine their mineral rights in Colorado but does try to
safeguard the process.
"We're saying that mineral rights are a property right and you have a
right to exercise that right, but just as all of us do with our
property rights, we think you have to exercise that right responsibly,"
Johnson said. "And that means that you leave the environment in as good
as shape when you're done with it as it was when you started. It's that
The legislation has yet to be assigned to a House or Senate committee
He spoke of the people whose wells are on the aquifer underneath Nunn.
“This land is their life savings,” Johnson said. “They’ve been on the
land for many generations. They’re depending on us to protect their