Legislators Consider Who Should Pay For Uranium Regulation

Oct 9, 2014

In situ uranium mining involves dissolving the uranium underground and pumping the solution to the surface.
There’s disagreement over whether industry should pay for the state to take over regulation of uranium mining. The Legislature’s Joint Minerals Committee reviewed a draft bill Thursday that would start the transfer of regulatory power from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

Wyoming is the largest uranium producing state in the country. The industry says it would cost less and take less time to get permits if the state were in charge of regulation. But the initial startup costs for the state program would be at least $4.1 million dollars, according to the Department of Environmental Quality.

Laramie Senator Chris Rothfuss said at the meeting he wants industry to pay that cost. But some industry officials disagreed, pointing out that the state also stands to benefit from the program.

“There will be savings in the years ahead for the state as several employee positions that are currently being paid for from the general fund would transfer to this program and now be paid for from these industry fees," said Ken Vaughn, a spokesman for Cameco, the country’s biggest uranium producer.

The committee will take up a final draft of the bill at its next meeting.