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Round two of the recent legislative fight over uranium mining near Edgemont will have to wait a while.

Rep. Patricia Stricherz, R-Madison, lambasted Powertech Uranium, saying the company has "deceived" and "lied" to lawmakers, but she ultimately withdrew a bill that would have undone a Powertech-friendly reform passed last year.

But Larry Mann, the lead lobbyist for Powertech, sharply rejected Stricherz's accusations.

"I have never, in my (24-year) experience with some pretty interesting topics, ever been called a liar, and there's a reason for that," Mann said. "I've never lied to you, and I'm not going to in the future ... I'm truly offended that someone would suggest that we lied to you."

At Stricherz's request, the House State Affairs Committee tabled House Bill 1098, which would have restored a role for the state Department of Natural Resources in regulating uranium mining, which was suspended by the legislation last year.

Stricherz insisted that had Powertech been truthful during hearings last year about its inexperience, Canadian background and legal troubles in Colorado, lawmakers would have never approved the company's request to simplify the regulatory process for approving uranium mines.

But Stricherz told the legislative committee that HB 1098 would only lead to a renewed battle. After asking to table HB 1098, she promised to return next year with a "refined law" to tackle the same question.

Several opponents of uranium mining near Edgemont were allowed to testify, expressing concerns about the impact such mining would have on local water supplies.

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The committee tabled HB1098 by a 9-4 vote.

Contact David Montgomery at 394-8329 or david.montgomery@rapidcityjournal.com.

 

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