A breaking CNN story, based in part on Western Values Project’s original research, reveals that with Scott Pruitt’s resignation, former D.C. lobbyist Andrew Wheeler’s promotion to acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), essentially gives the keys to the United States’ uranium reserves to a foreign corporation.
Wheeler was a registered lobbyist for Energy Fuels Inc., a Canadian corporation based in Toronto until July 2017. He also served as an energy advisor to the Trump campaign. Energy Fuels Inc. owns an inactive uranium mine on the western edge of what used to be Bears Ears National Monument and the White Mesa uranium mill on the eastern side.
“In addition to his serious conflicts of interest from his past work as a lobbyist, Wheeler was this foreign-owned corporation’s inside connection when they lobbied the administration to reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument,” said Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger. “Allowing a former lobbyist of a foreign-owned uranium mining corporation free reign of a government agency charged with protecting the environment flies in the face of both Trump’s America First and drain the swamp rhetoric.”
Western Values Project’s Executive Director Chris Saeger discusses Andrew Wheeler.
Interestingly, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the New York Times show that Andrew Wheeler lobbied for Energy Fuels Resources before the Department of Interior during July 2017 – a period during which he was not registered as a lobbyist for the company. On July 17, 2017, Wheeler represented Energy Fuels Resources in a meeting with DOI officials “to discuss the Bears Ears National Monument.” Wheeler was only registered as a lobbyist for Energy Fuels Resources during the first and second quarters of 2017.
The Energy Fuels Inc. plans include trucking uranium ore across the Bears Ears National Monument. The corporation lobbied the current administration to significantly reduce its size, saying when the monument was first designated that it “could significantly adversely impact any of our material projects and could have a material adverse impact…”
The EPA issued a rulemaking notice in January 2017 that would potentially benefit Energy Fuels Inc. The rule would “re-propose” a 2015 regulation that would loosen standards and eliminate the long-term monitoring provision for the “protection of the public health, safety, and environment from radiological and non-radiological hazards associated with uranium and thorium ore processing, and their associated wastes.”
EFI hasn’t been shy about their efforts to lobby the EPA. WVP discovered video of EFI’s investor conference on January 26, 2018 where President and CEO Mark Chalmers says the company is “lobbying very heavily” the EPA to get contracts to process waste from abandoned uranium mines in Navajo country.
Watch: Mark Chalmers of EFI is very heavily lobbying the EPA.
Energy Fuels Inc. also has subsidiary offices in Lakewood, Colorado. The corporation’s SEC filings list Ontario as a “state or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization” and they are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) under the ticker symbol EFR. Their website touts the corporation as a supplier of uranium to major nuclear utilities worldwide.