This Week in Bears Ears News: Jan. 15-21, 2018
A smattering of stories from the Bears Ears beat:
In our first news roundup of 2018, we shared a feisty tit-for-tat from the editorial page of Monticello, Utah's San Juan Record. The above letter continues the conversation between the residents of San Juan County, Utah and the "outsiders" who love Bears Ears.
This impassioned op-ed by Garon Coriz of Santo Domingo Pueblo makes the case for all Pueblo peoples, whose ancestral ties to the Bears Ears landscape are strong and indisputable, to stand in solidarity with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and commit to protecting the region.
A useful overview of the policy changes at the Interior Department since President Trump took office one year ago. The takeaway: extractive industries stand to benefit immensely, often through rollbacks of Obama-era environmental protections. A story to watch: what happens on Feb. 2 when the federal government opens the land cut from Bears Ears National Monument to leasing by oil, gas, and uranium corporations.
Another salvo in the access-vs.-preservation battle over Bears Ears.
Energy Fuels Resources, which owns the White Mesa Uranium Mill in San Juan County, is one of two uranium companies pressuring Trump to protect the industry from imports "that threaten national security" (unspoken: and company profits). Last month, the Washington Post reported that Energy Fuels Resources lobbied Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to reduce Bears Ears National Monument so that the company could more easily access uranium deposits in the region.
This could spell trouble for the many plaintiffs of the five lawsuits challenging President Trump's shrinking of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. While the rationale presented by the Trump administration is that a Utah court should handle a case with so much local interest, it seems the more pertinent motivation is to avoid facing a more liberal court in D.C. that likely would be more sympathetic to the plaintiffs.