The article, titled “After a Powerful Lobbyist Intervenes, EPA Reverses Stance on Polluting Texas County’s Water,” was written by Abrahm Lustgarten and published on the ProPublica website on March 13. A link to the story is provided on the Goliad County Groundwater Conservation District’s website.
In December, the EPA concurred with an earlier decision by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to grant UEC an aquifer exemption, which was the final hurdle for UEC to begin its mining operations in Goliad County.
Lustgarten claims in 2011 UEC “hired Heather Podesta, a lobbyist and prolific Democratic fundraiser whose pull with the Obama administration prompted The Washington Post to name her the Capitol’s latest ‘It girl.’ ”
Lustgarten wrote, “Podesta - the sister-in-law of John Podesta, who co-chaired President Obama’s transition team - appealed directly to the EPA’s second in command, Bob Perciasepe, pressing the agency’s highest-level administrators to get directly involved and bring the agency’s local staff in Texas back to the table to reconsider their position, according to emails obtained by ProPublica through the Freedom of Information Act.”
“By the end of 2012, the EPA reversed its position in Goliad, approving an exemption allowing Uranium Energy to pollute the aquifer, though in a somewhat smaller area than was originally proposed.”
UEC spokesman Matt Welch said the non-profit ProPublica has been roundly criticized by media research groups for its slanted reporting.
“ProPublica is an extremely liberal, leftist publication that is used by the environmental movement to orchestrate “hit” pieces against American companies,” UEC said in a statement to the Advance-Guard. “Their work has frequently been criticized as slanted, biased and inaccurate and they have received significant funding from the George Soros Foundation.
“The Internet is full of documented criticism of ProPublica’s liberal bias including sites such as www.groupsnoop.org/ProPublica and www.phoenix.edu/about_us/media-center/fact-checker/2009/12/propublica-investigative-journalism-or-liberal-spin.html. People who are placing value in this story should look at the source of this type of journalism before drawing any conclusions.
The ProPublica story said GCGCD President Art Dohmann met with EPA officials to present the agency results of water well test data performed by the GCGCD. Dohmann is quoted as saying, “We could just tell that we were going through the motions, and that it had moved from a technical evaluation to a political decision.”
UEC said it wasn’t surprised by the GCGCD’s promotion of the article.
“After realizing that the groundwater district has been coordinating with liberal documentary filmmakers for years, I’m not surprised to see this tactic,” the statement said.
The GCGCD is currently working with an Austin filmmaker on a documentary about uranium mining in the Goliad County.
The UEC statement went on to question the accuracy of the ProPublica story.
“In addition, the story made numerous baseless accusations about our operations and ignored scientific facts that undermined the reporter’s preconceived point of view including the reality that there has never been a documented case of groundwater contamination in Texas using in-situ recovery methods. UEC’s Goliad project has been reviewed by every relevant state and federal regulatory agency over the past 5 years.
“The experts who study this industry have all agreed that what we do is safe and that our methods are based in sound science. Now that our permits are finally approved, we look forward to creating jobs and stimulating economic development in Goliad County and the surrounding region.”
In February, UEC objected to an article Forbes Magazine titled “Energy’s Latest Battleground: Fracking for Uranium.” UEC said the article was rife with errors and misinformation.
According to its quarterly report released March 12, UEC production increased at its Palangana mine to 48,000 pounds of uranium compared to 29,000 pounds the previous quarter.
The GCGGCD has recently adopted a media policy that won’t allow board members to directly answer questions from the media. The GCGCD had on its agenda for Monday’s meeting an item to discuss the ProPublica story.