New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC)’s mission is to protect New Mexico’s communities and their air, land and water in the fight for environmental justice.

On May 7th and 8th, NMELC represented the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE) and Amigos Bravos in opposing a “Return to Active” permit for the Mt. Taylor uranium mine. Without the new permit, the mine, which has not produced since 1990, has one year left in Standby status before it has to shut down.

NMELC’s efforts in this hearing included extensive testimony on the economics of uranium mining and the lack of any foreseeable change in the market that would support mineral production, as required for a mining permit. Even though, during the initial permit hearing, the mine’s own expert said that the market wouldn’t support production of minerals for 10-15 years, NMELC’s testimony on this matter was blocked by the Commission Chair. The Chair also limited NMELC’s ability to press the Department on the length of time it would allow the mine to continue in “active” status without production and what conditions would trigger a mine closeout and reclamation. As long as the mine remains active, it will continue to threaten the land, air, and water, and the communities around it.

Despite the blocking, the Chairman, other Commission members, and the mine’s site manager discussed market conditions, but in terms favorable to the mine’s future potential production.