Help Protect Kakadu National Park
June 14, 1999
 

Dear Colleague:

    Thank you for your co-sponsorship of the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act and your continued commitment to preserving the natural heritage of our country.

    I am writing again in hope of your support for an initiative to prevent the construction of the Jabiluka uranium mine in Australia, which would pose severe environmental threats to the cultural and natural assets of the surrounding Kakadu National Park, a World Heritage Area internationally renowned for its rich biodiversity and cultural significance. The debate over the uranium mine is drawing worldwide attention, and the construction plans have already encountered opposition from such bodies as the Australian Senate, the European Parliament and the World Heritage Committee.

    I invite you to join these efforts to protect the cultural and ecological values of Kakadu National Park by co-signing the following letter to President Clinton, imploring the US to support an "In Danger" listing for Kakadu National Park at the 2nd Extraordinary Session of the World Heritage Committee in July, and urging the US representatives at UNESCO to oppose uranium mining in one of Australia's richest national treasures.

For more information, please contact Jon Fremont at x5-1605.

Sincerely,

 

Cynthia McKinney
Member of Congress

This is the sign on letter we [Congresswoman McKinney’s office] sent to President Clinton, we had 34 members of Congress and 4 Senators to sign on.


Dear President Clinton:

    We are writing to you on behalf of two 1999 Goldman Environmental Prize winners, Jacqui Katona and Yvonne Margarula of Australia. These extraordinary Aboriginal women have been leading a popular national campaign to prevent construction of the Jabiluka uranium mine on the land of the Mirrar people. Yvonne Margarula is the leader of the Mirrar people and bears the responsibility of ensuring the protection of their lands and culture in accordance with the 60,000 year old traditions of her forefathers.

    The proposed Jabiluka mine site is surrounded by Kakadu National Park, a World Heritage Area known for its rich biodiversity and cultural significance. The Mirrar people believe that Jabiluka, which would be the second uranium mine developed on Mirrar lands despite their protests, will gravely damage the environmental and cultural values of Kakadu.

    In October 1998, a UNESCO World Heritage Committee Mission visited Kakadu National Park to determine whether the proposed Jabiluka mine would cause Kakadu to be placed on the "In Danger" list. Based on detailed analysis of scientific and cultural information, the Mission's primary recommendation was that "severe ascertained and potential dangers to the cultural and natural values of Kakadu National Park [are] posed primarily by the proposal for uranium mining and milling at Jabiluka. The Mission therefore recommends that the proposal to mine and mill uranium at Jabiluka should not proceed."  Based on these findings, the World Heritage Committee resolved during the December 1998 meeting that construction should cease pending a decision on "In Danger"listing in July 1999.

    This debate over the Jabiluka mine has captured attention worldwide, as nations are now making sincere efforts to halt its development. Both the European Parliament and the Australian Senate have passed resolutions condemming the Australian Government for allowing the construction of the Jabiluka mine despite the concerns of the UN World Heritage Committee. In
addition, support for this movement is continuing to grow amongst Australians. According to a 1998 Australian Newspoll, two-thirds of the Australian population oppose the mine and less than 10% actively support it.

    It is also worth noting that until three years ago, uranium mining at Jabiluka was prohibited by the Australian Government. However, in 1996, the longtime Labor government was ousted by a conservative coalition, which has since become a powerful advocate in favor of opening the mine.

    The U.S. Department of Interior will soon play an important role in deciding the fate of Kakadu National Park. For this reason, we, the undersigned Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, implore the US to support an "In Danger" listing for Kakadu National Park at the 2nd Extraordinary Session of the World Heritage Committee to be held on July 12, 1999 in Paris. We also urge US representatives at UNESCO to steadfastly oppose uranium mining in one of Australia's richest national treasures.

    Mr. President, we thank you for all of your fine efforts to preserve and protect America's natural heritage. We ask you to extend the same courtesy and assistance to Australian environmental, human rights and indigenous rights advocates who now need your help. We and the American public are counting on your firm leadership in the ongoing effort to protect this premier example of the world's natural and cultural landscapes from irrevocable harm.