Bears Ears


  • October 13th, 2020

    Yesterday was Indigenous Peoples’ Day. We recognized it by sharing the Bears Ears Inter Tribal Coalition’s words. Today, we want to continue the spirit of Indigenous Peoples’ Day with a message about public land. 

    The wild lands of America’s red rock wilderness are ancestral Goshute, Ute, Shoshone, Diné, Paiute, Hopi, and Pueblo territories—this only considers tribes recognized by the federal government. Since the beginning of time, hundreds of thousands of Indigenous peoples have called the mountains, canyons, and valleys of Utah home. We honor our native neighbors and those who were here long before all of us to recognize the following:

    • Public Lands are on stolen lands: in the United States, Thomas Jefferson first employed the Doctrine of Discovery to dispossess Native peoples of their claims to land in order to continue U.S. westward expansion. The Doctrine of Discovery is a religious doctrine of the 1400s that founded the spiritual and legal right for Europeans to literally “take possession” of lands they “discovered [that were] not under the dominion of Christian rulers.” In 1823, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the Doctrine as legally valid. This historic process is where the concept of “stolen lands” come from. Even though SUWA has been persistent in the permanent protection of red rock wilderness in Utah and fights tooth and nail for the retention of public lands in the public domain, we still must face the facts of this violent time in history.
    • Federal conservation lands were created with the same kind of intention. Organ Pipe, Yosemite, and Yellowstone are just a few examples of beloved conservation lands whose establishment resulted in the displacement of native communities. This is why it’s important to know whose land you stand on, and to support native-lead campaigns to protect people and the planet. The more non-native people can recognize ancestral territories on which they live, work, and play, the better allies we can be in standing for justice for native peoples.

    Our public lands are the perfect subject for healing among all people, healing our connection with the more-than-human world, and respecting our native community members. Yesterday was Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but the work to protect sacred ancestral lands continues every day.

  • September 23rd, 2020

    In June, we wrote to you about plans from Energy Fuels Resources—the company that successfully lobbied the Trump administration to reduce Bears Ears National Monument in 2017—to ship radioactive waste from Estonia to the White Mesa Uranium Mill, on the doorstep of the monument.

    Now, Energy Fuels Resources wants to import radioactive waste from Japan, and the State of Utah has agreed that the company doesn’t need any special licenses or permission, or to hear from the public, to accept the waste.

    Please take a moment to urge Utah regulators to protect Bears Ears!

    White Mesa Uranium Mill, © EcoFlight

    The White Mesa Uranium Mill sits next to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s White Mesa community. Understandably, many residents are concerned about the mill’s impact on their air quality and drinking water.

    Energy Fuels intends to extract a small amount of uranium from the waste, then dump the toxic leftovers just east of Bears Ears National Monument’s original boundary, where it will remain forever.

    Radioactive waste from overseas should never end up next to Indigenous communities in America. Please urge Utah regulators to:

    • Require that Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. obtain a specific import license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the Japanese waste.
    • Deny future requests to send toxic and radioactive waste to the White Mesa Mill.
    • Protect groundwater and air quality in the Bears Ears region for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s White Mesa community and for future generations.

    Click here to submit your comments today.

    Thank you for taking action.

  • June 22nd, 2020

    At the doorstep of Bears Ears National Monument, the White Mesa Uranium Mill in southern Utah wants to acquire tons of new radioactive waste shipped all the way from Estonia.

    The mill’s owner, Energy Fuels Resources, lobbied the Trump administration to reduce Bears Ears National Monument in 2017. If the license application is approved by the Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control, the White Mesa Uranium Mill would begin accepting 660 tons of radioactive waste to process in the first year alone.

    Click here to ask the state of Utah to reject the proposal to import radioactive waste to southern Utah.

    Bringing Estonia’s radioactive waste, which contains about 0.05% uranium ore, to the White Mesa Uranium Mill for processing would add millions of tons of toxic waste to the pits that lie just a few miles from the Ute Mountain Ute’s White Mesa community.

    White Mesa Uranium Mill, copyright EcoFlight

    The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe has voiced concerns about Energy Fuels Resources’ proposal and the threat of contamination to the Tribe’s drinking water. Scott Clow, the Environmental Programs Director for the Tribe, lamented to the Salt Lake Tribune how the White Mesa Uranium Mill is becoming “the world’s radioactive waste dump.” He added, “The Tribe does not want these materials to continue to be delivered to their neighborhood, their traditional lands, and stored there forever.”

    Energy Fuels Resources already has a questionable track record when it comes to handling toxic and radioactive materials. Within the last five years, trucks driving through southern Utah on their way to White Mesa have spilled radioactive waste twice, and the mill itself releases toxic and radioactive air pollutants, which residents of White Mesa have reported smelling.

    The public comment period on Energy Fuels Resources’ proposal is open through July 10, 2020.

    Click here to submit your comments to Utah regulators today.

    Thank you for taking action.

  • June 16th, 2020

    As expected, the Trump administration has gone all-in on its plans to flood southern Utah’s redrock country with oil and gas development.

    If Trump’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM)  gets its way during its September 2020 oil and gas lease sale, new oil and gas wells could appear at the doorstep of Canyonlands, Arches, and Capitol Reef National Parks—as well as near Bears Ears National Monument, Labyrinth Canyon, Dead Horse Point State Park, the Green River, and in lands proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

    The September lease sale threatens to blanket southern Utah’s landscape of red rock canyons and natural arches with drill rigs, pipelines, and truck traffic—replacing the clean air, expansive vistas, quiet stillness, and sense of wildness with the sights and sounds of industrial development, all while expanding fossil fuel emissions that are driving the climate crisis. 

    And the size of this new lease sale is massive. At more than 114,050 acres across 77 separate parcels of public land, this is the largest lease sale seen in the area since the oil industry giveaways at the end of the George W. Bush administration with its  December 2008 lease sale—which coincidentally also included 77 parcels. 

    The nature and scale of that Bush-era lease sale was so controversial that it prompted a lawsuit from conservation groups including SUWA that blocked the sale and led to long overdue and common sense reforms to the oil and gas leasing process. 

    The Trump administration threw out those reforms shortly after taking office, setting the stage for a repeat of the disastrous December 2008 lease sale.

    Previously, Utah Governor Gary Herbert has shown a willingness to speak out against oil and gas leases that lie too close to Utah’s national parks, as many of these leases do. That’s why we’re asking you to take a few minutes today to call Governor Herbert and ask him to demand that the Trump administration abandon this rapacious plan for southern Utah.

    Call Governor Herbert’s office today at 801-538-1000 and ask him to protect Utah’s national parks, or click here to be connected to his office.  You may also click here to send him an email.

    When you call, tell him:

    • To intervene and ask the BLM to cancel its inappropriate September lease sale for southern Utah, which threatens Utah’s magnificent parks and wild places.
    • We should not sacrifice our national parks and wildlands for the sake of oil and gas development, especially when the world is awash in oil.
    • His leadership in speaking out against inappropriate leasing around Dinosaur National Monument, Zion National Park, and Sand Flats Recreation Area was greatly appreciated.

    In the coming weeks, we’ll also ask you to submit comments on the lease sale directly to the BLM. 

    But first, we need you to contact Governor Herbert—and to help get the word out by sharing this post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

    And click here to take additional action by send sending a Letter to the Editor.

    Thank you for taking action.