Title: [GreenYes] Re: Most important recycling legislation in 135 years!! Congress Votes on General Mining Act of 1872
I apologize for the distracting preface (about waste management
competing as a service vs. raw materials competing as a material).
What is important is that there is the first REFORM legislation making
it out of committee and actually having a chance at passage since
1985. It's been a long, long time since major dailies like USA Today
and NYTimes (editorial below) were writing about the fact that
forestry and extraction have billion dollar federal subsidy advantages
The REFORM bill made it out of committee. It's coming to a vote.
Recyclers need to unite around this legislation, and if our leaders
aren't taking a position on it, demand they do. It may be another 25
years before we can get this out of committee and onto the house floor
Unchanged (for the Worse) Since 1872
Published: August 20, 2007
The General Mining Law of 1872 is among the last statutory survivors
of the boisterous era of westward expansion. Essentially unchanged
since Ulysses S. Grant signed it into law, it sets the basic rules for
mining hard-rock minerals like gold, copper and uranium on public
lands. Useful in its day, it is a disaster now. It requires no
royalties from the mining companies and contains no environmental
safeguards, allowing mines to wreak havoc on water supplies and
Representative Nick Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat, has been trying
to bring this law into the modern era since 1985. He will try again
this fall, and Congress's Democratic leadership should help him out.
The bill would require mining companies to pay royalties on minerals
extracted from federal land, just as coal and oil producers do. It
would place sensitive wilderness lands and other "areas of critical
environmental concern" off limits to mining, require reclamation
afterward and create a fund to clean up the law's most unattractive
legacy - the estimated 500,000 abandoned mine sites that continue to
leak cyanide, lead, mercury and other toxic wastes.
Mr. Rahall's latest effort could not be more timely. An exhaustive
report last week from the Environmental Working Group and the Pew
Campaign for Responsible Mining noted a dramatic jump in mining claims
throughout the West, from 207,540 at the beginning of 2003 to almost
376,500 today. An alarmingly high number have been staked within five
miles of 11 major national parks and monuments, including Grand Canyon
National Park in Arizona and Death Valley National Park in
Much of this increase appears to have been driven by a quintupling in
uranium prices over the last several years, which in turn is driven by
a renewed interest in nuclear energy as an alternative to dirtier
fuels like coal and increasingly costly fuels like natural gas.
The mining industry has long argued that because it is covered by
other environmental laws, like the Clean Water Act, its does not need
special safeguards. But it does. The Clean Water Act, for instance,
does not cover subsurface water. And of course the companies do not
like the idea of paying royalties. Even so, prices are so strong now
that some of the big companies are beginning to sense that there is a
point at which opposition begins to look ridiculous.
Which leaves one enduring obstacle: Harry Reid, the Senate majority
leader, whose home state of Nevada depends far more on mining than any
other state. Mr. Reid now seems willing to listen, as he should. One
can live in the 19th century for only so long.