Uranium study, lawsuit not linked, Department of Energy says

Plans by the U.S. Department of Energy to conduct an environmental impact statement on its uranium-leasing program don’t change the department’s defense of a suit brought by environmental organizations to stop leasing.

“I don’t know of any reason to settle at all,” said Laura Kilpatrick, program manager for the leasing program.

Several environmental organizations that filed the suit said the action precipitated the plans for an environmental study. The lawsuit is in the briefing stage, and “there is no settlement agreement at all,” Kilpatrick said. “Nobody won or lost a case.”

The Colorado Environmental Coalition, the Information Network for Responsible Mining, the Center for Native Ecosystems, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sheep Mountain Alliance filed suit in 2008, alleging the leasing program and subsequent mining could harm air and water quality, and it threatens and endangered species. The organizations claimed the lawsuit forced the Energy Department to conduct the environmental impact statement, which Kilpatrick denied.

“We don’t want people saying their lawsuit drove this,” Kilpatrick said. “That is absolutely not true.”

Part of the environmental study is the collection of public comments to determine the scope of the effort.

Comments will be accepted until Sept. 9 and can be submitted online at http://ulpeis.anl.gov/involve/comments/index.cfm.

Comments will be accepted at public meetings next month:

Aug. 8 in the Montrose Pavilion, 1800 Pavilion Drive, Montrose.

Aug. 9 in the Sheridan Opera House, 110 N. Oak St., Telluride.

Aug. 10 in the Naturita Community Building, 411 W. Second St., Naturita.

Aug. 11 in the San Juan County Courthouse in Monticello, Utah, 117 S. Main St.

All meetings will be from 6:30 to 9 p.m.


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