Late last year, the Bush administration delivered two big gifts to the
nuclear power industry, signing deals to help India produce more energy from
nuclear reactors and for Westinghouse to build four new reactors in China.
Those countries are half a world away from Colorado, but the worldwide
resurgence of interest in nuclear power runs risks for the state's public lands,
health and safety.
The nuclear industry's efforts to recast itself as a supposedly clean source of
energy - a spin echoed by the administration - has helped spark a uranium boom
in the American West. Interior Department records show a sharp increase in
mining claims on Western public lands since 2002, driven by a seven-fold
increase in the price of uranium.
As recently as 2004, no uranium interests were among the largest mineral
claimholders in the West. Now, government data show that uranium interests are
among the biggest claimholders across the ...