Yesterday was a good day in South Dakota, where Powertech/Azarga Uranium wants to do in situ leach uranium mining in the southwestern Black Hills.  Due to federal lawsuits filed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe, federal permitting for the project is in limbo.  There has not been a cultural resources survey on the 12,000+ acres of the proposed project, and the area is sacred to Lakota and other indigenous peoples — as are the entire Black Hills.

BHCWA’s Counsel, Mr. Bruce Ellison, gives a brief update about what transpired at the Water Management Board meeting – Powertech must wait until for Federal Permits.

Nonetheless, the company has been trying to restart the process for its state water permits, which was put on hold in 2013.  Yesterday, this effort ran into determined resistance at a meeting of the SD Water Management Board.  State Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources water staff opposed the company’s effort, as did the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Black Hills Clean Water Alliance, Institute of Range and the American Mustang, citizen intervenors, and members of the public.

Cheryl Angel, Sicangu Lakota Water Protector gives Power sign while Powertech representatives look disappointed. Photo by Rebecca Terk.

After several hours of testimony and discussion, the Water Management Board voted unanimously to deny Powertech/Azarga’s motion to restart the water permit process.  Read More in the Rapid City Journal.

For extra interest, the Board cited the issues involved with the KXL oil pipleline’s efforts to build across South Dakota in making its decision.  In that case, the state gave the company (T C Energy) its water permits, then the federal government struck down the project.  The Board is afraid of a repeat.  And, at yesterday’s meeting, the Board also revoked the water permits for the KXL project.  So it was a good day for water and the environment in South Dakota!  And if you want to keep up with corporate wrangling, Powertech Uranium is currently the South Dakota subsidiary of Azarga Uranium.  However, sometime in November, Azarga Uranium is due to be bought out by enCore Energy (not to be confused with Encore Energy with two capital “E”s).  enCore Energy is organized in Canada, has its home office in Texas, and is active on uranium efforts across the western US.

We are greatly pleased by the outcome and sincerely thank everyone for taking action – We had over 300 Sign-On Letters sent to the WMB asking them to Deny Powertech’s request.

Now we must put pressure on the EPA. Please sign and share our petition to the EPA to Withdraw those water permits. We have close to 4,400 signatures and counting. GO!

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