A tendency can be a characteristic, or prevailing, penchant to act toward some end and is more likely an inclination, bent, or predisposition toward a cause or action without regard for obstacles such as the law or common decency. Most humans comprehend that if something happens once, or even twice, over a period of several years it can be a simple coincidence. However, if a certain group of people repeat the same actions consistently over time, it is no longer a coincidence; it is a trend and a characteristic.
Over the past three years it has become blatantly apparent that there is a trend among Republican politicians adhering to the Mormon religion to oppose federal government ownership of land, National Parks, or environmentally sensitive wilderness areas. Now, a Mormon federal district judge appointed by George W. Bush has disregarded federal law and granted approval for a Canadian corporation to begin mining for uranium in the Grand Canyon National Park. This is not the first time a Mormon in a position of power has displayed an inclination to disregard the American people’s land and environment to advance the profits of a foreign corporation.
Just last week it was reported here that a Mormon representative in the House, Rob Bishop (R-LDS), was on a crusade to destroy the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) because he believes National Parks and wilderness areas are best suited for corporate development and resource extraction. Mormon Bishop’s crusade was successful because the LWCF is now history.
In 2012, Republican presidential candidate, and Mormon, Willard Romney, assailed President Obama during a nationally-televised debate for not paying the oil industry to drill in the American people’s National Parks, protected wilderness areas, or any federally-owned land. Willard was also inclined to lie in promising Canadian corporation TransCanada that their planned KeystoneXL pipeline would proceed immediately if he was elected because he had no regard for the damage it would cause to America’s environment, its agricultural heartland or a major water source for millions of Americans.
Two years ago, another Mormon, Cliven Bundy, summoned armed militias to confront federal officials in the commission of their court-ordered duty because he does not believe the federal government has a right to own land. In Bundy’s mind, like Rob Bishop and Willard Romney, federal land is an abomination and belongs to him in the pursuit of profits.
Also, three years ago, the Utah state legislature passed unconstitutional legislation demanding that the federal government immediately cede ownership of its land to the state of Utah. The predominately Mormon legislature believes it is their right to sell off all federal land to oil, logging, and mining interests to increase their profits. It is little surprise, then, that a Mormon judge appointed by George W. Bush ruled that despite a 2012 rule, the Canadian mining corporation Energy Fuels can expand uranium mining in the Grand Canyon.
The judge, David G. Campbell denied a “request” by the Havasupai tribe and a coalition of conservation groups to halt new uranium mining on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. As an aside, the Grand Canyon was just named one of the “Most Endangered Places” in America, and allowing the Canadian corporation to start mining uranium fairly seals the region’s fate as most radiated for generations.
According to the Grand Canyon Trust, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to permit Energy Fuels Inc. to develop uranium mining without seeking permission from the Havasupai tribal authorities or updating a three-decade old environmental review was insane. The conservation groups and geologists have warned that mining uranium threatens wildlife, including many endangered species such as the California condor, as well as contaminate the aquifers and streams that maintain the Grand Canyon and Colorado River with radioactive toxic waste. Geologists have spent no small amount of time warning that cleaning up radioactive contamination is “next to impossible” because the aquifers feeding the Grand Canyon are inaccessible at thousands of feet below the surface.
There is really no legal reason for the Forest Service’s insane approval to mine uranium in the Grand Canyon. Just three years ago then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a 20-year ban prohibiting any mining claims and mine development on existing claims; the ban was put in place to protect roughly 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon; an area that is still plagued by decommissioned uranium mines and radioactive contamination.
According to Roger Clark of the Grand Canyon Trust,
“This ruling is bad news for protecting Grand Canyon and tribal sacred sites. Over the last two decades, we’ve learned how uranium mining can pollute aquifers that feed canyon springs and Havasu Falls. We are still recovering from the last uranium rush which poisoned so much water it’ll take generations to clean up.”
Canadian corporation Energy Fuels said they could not care less about radioactive waste wiping out wildlife and poisoning water and claimed categorically that the 20-year ban is null and void because their uranium mining plan was at one time approved under the Reagan administration 29 years ago.
The plaintiffs argued that the Forest Service violated the National Historic Preservation Act by failing to consult with tribes regarding potential negative impacts of the Canyon Mine on Red Butte. Also, the conservation groups attested the decision endangers the “Red Butte Traditional Cultural Property” which the Forest Service (USFS) previously designated for religious and cultural importance to several tribes five years ago. Too bad said the Mormon judge; the 20-year Interior Department ban and USFS designation are federal agency regulations that just do not apply to a foreign corporation claiming their right to profit off of a National Park on federal land.
Now, speaking of tendencies, it never fails that someone will take offense at citing that Mormon Republicans are driving this bizarre notion that the federal government has no legal right to own federal land, create and maintain National Parks, or set aside protected wilderness areas. There is no criticism of Mormons per se, just this outrageous trend among Republican Mormons in positions of power to claim the federal government land is the purview of corporations focused solely on extracting resources for profit.
It is entirely possible that there are some Mormons who have a semblance of appreciation for wilderness areas and National Parks, but it is a fact that over the past few years it has been primarily Mormon Republicans, in league with the Koch brothers, who are leading the crusade to seize federal land, and National Parks, for their mining, oil, and logging enterprises. If Mormons do appreciate wilderness areas and National Parks, they had better visit the Grand Canyon soon because before long it will be radiated with uranium waste and when that happens, no-one, not Joseph Smith or Brigham Young, can possibly save even one of them from radiation poisoning.
With a stroke of his pen the President can end the Canadian corporation’s radioactive assault on the Grand Canyon, endangered species, and water. There is a petition urging President Obama to protect the Grand Canyon and its watershed from uranium mining by creating a new national monument — the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument in Arizona.