Last year, State Representative and anti-environmental lawyer Lance Russell helped engineer a legal settlement under which his mother, Carolyn Fines, acquired a valuable chunk of Black Hills land that includes $95,000 worth of uranium leases with a Canadian company called Powertech. Rep. Russell then helped push legislation that stripped South Dakota of some regulatory authority over uranium mine development.
But Rep. Russell's mom is going to be sitting on that uranium pile a while longer. After failing to answer safety questions this spring, Powertech now faces more delay in its plans to exploit the Black Hills. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has pushed back its projected release date for a final supplementary environmental impact statement on Powertech's proposed Dewey-Burdock uranium dig another four to six months, to January or March 2013.
Perhaps Powertech should call Congresswoman Kristi Noem. She loves to violate the separation of powers and impose Congress's will to hurry environmental reviews as favors to Canadian corporations.
Perhaps Powertech should also send an update to its investors. As watchdog website PowertechExposed.com points out, Powertech's latest quarterly report assured investors that NRC would issue its final SEIS on the Dewey-Burdock project in the second half of 2012. This quarterly report to investors, issued July 29, just one business day before the NRC's delay announcement on August 1, makes PowertechExposed.com wonder:
The fact that Powertech made a factual assertion on Friday that turned out to be erroneous three days later raises the questions: Did Powertech officials know or suspect that NRC staff would revise the estimated issuance dates? And did Powertech file its quarterly reports early (the deadline is August 15) to avoid having to disclose the revised issuance dates to investors?
Powertech received notice on July 25 of a delayed start in reviewing Powertech's make-up answers to safety questions. Surely investors would find that information relevant to their decisions to continue letting their money sit in Powertech's inactive coffers.
Powertech had to scale back its uranium mining plans in Colorado last month. The company's claim to be "well positioned for rapid growth" sounds distressingly like Dwaine Chapel's risible assertion that Madison has the "potential" to create 500 new jobs. Rep. Russell and his mom had better keep a close on those quarterly reports: at this rate, they may find themselves stuck with an unprofitable and slightly glowing tract of the Black Hills.