Skip banner
HomeHow Do I?Site MapHelp
Return To Search FormFOCUS
Search Terms: mine waste, House or Senate or Joint

Document ListExpanded ListKWICFULL format currently displayed

Previous Document Document 18 of 21. Next Document

More Like This
Copyright 2000 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. 
(f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.)  
Federal Document Clearing House Congressional Testimony

March 21, 2000, Tuesday


LENGTH: 1920 words

HEADLINE: TESTIMONY March 21, 2000 MIKE CRAPO CHAIRMAN SENATE environment & public works fisheries, wildlife and water ABANDONED MINES

June 21, 2000 Statement of Chairman Mike Crapo Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water Hearing on S. 1787 The Subcommittee will come to order. This is the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water hearing on S. 1787, the Good Samaritan Abandoned or Inactive Mine Waste Remediation Act. I appreciate the witnesses joining us here today to explore the issue of remediating and reclaiming abandoned and inactive mines and to reflect on S. 1787, introduced by Senator Baucus. Throughout the United States, several hundred thousand mine sites lie undisturbed, a legacy of another time when mining practices were less sophisticated than our current industry standards and when today's rigorous environmental stewardship laws were not yet a glimmer on the horizon. In other areas, the federal government directed mining companies to extract resources quickly and without regard for ecological consequences to support war efforts or economic growth. Although operated in full compliance with the governing laws at the time, many abandoned and inactive mines pose environmental threats to surrounding watersheds and downstream interests. However, because of the economic uncertainties of the mining industry, the vast majority of these so-called abandoned mine lands (AMLs) lack a viable owner with the resources to remediate them. Others lie on public lands, where states and federal agencies lack the incentives and funds to adopt them. Still others are truly abandoned, with no identifiable owner in sight. As such, federal policy should encourage federal agencies, states, and private parties to volunteer themselves to clean up AMLs that would otherwise remain unremediated. In other words, we should help them become "good samaritans" and promote voluntary stewards of the environment. If unconnected parties step forward to help address these sites, everyone wins. I believe there is little disagreement that this is a policy to which we should all aspire. But how do we achieve this policy? Clearly, a combination of two factors must be addressed. First, current legal and economic disincentives for identifying good samaritans need to be eliminated. Today's witnesses are expected to highlight the multitude of legal barriers, including Clean Water Act and Superfund liability, that discourage parties for taking actions. The existence of unnecessary regulatory burdens may also dissuade potential good samaritans because of the time, costs, and, frankly, the hassle of bureaucratic steps. If the Salvation Army required potential contributors to undertake a search of all nearby or viable donors before contributing, very little actual money would be collected. Second, it should be federal policy to invite as many good samaritans as financially viable to contribute to the repair of our environment. Neither a needy charity nor a worthwhile environmental cause would reject a contribution or assistance from a willing donor. Is our environment any less worthy a cause? To do so, we should err on the side of establishing as many incentives as possible to identify good samaritans. Federal, state, and local agencies could be parties, as well as private companies, and not just mining sources. Any combination of the following could be created for the purpose federal or state funding, tax incentives, permission to offset costs for undertaking voluntary remediation, a trust fund, just to name a few options. For so many years now, we have all heard that we can spare little expense when it comes to healing Mother Nature; is it fair to shortchange her now when many are willing to help? It is also appropriate to spend a few moments addressing matters that would play an important part in whatever policy is created. First, creating limitations on state rights and prerogatives in managing the environment is counterproductive. In other words, states should retain full authority to set water quality guidelines, issue permits, and act as clean-up agents to ensure the environment is served. Moreover, the current record of the EPA in reviewing and issuing NPDES permits is clearly lacking. Second, the overly complicated rules proposed under this bill to preclude certain actors from cleaning up sites on particular stretches of property may, in fact, scare potential good samaritans away from volunteering themselves for cleanups on property of mixed ownership involving federal, state, and private parties. Third, if certain sites are of particular threat to the environment, even to the level of warranting Superfund program attention, those areas should not be excluded from cleanup by volunteers. If, by nature, these sites represent the highest caliber of threat to human health and the environment, shouldn't these sites be ones that are open to cleanup by willing parties, especially if the state or federal government identifies them as priority sites? Unless the search for liable parties finds, in the preponderance of cases, identifiable parties who will actually clean up the site, shouldn't a volunteer be welcomed in their absence? Fourth, with what external activities should a potential volunteer be saddled? In other words, is it good policy to expect a good samaritan to expend limited resources to undertake ownership searches rather than cleanups? Is that the responsibility of the good samaritan? Fifth, is it appropriate to treat good samaritans as untrustworthy in their willingness to remediate discharges not of their fault by insisting on a lengthy and potentially expensive permit application process? Given that the good samaritan is volunteering itself where others will not step forward, what should federal policy be with regard to reviewing permits? Sixth, what is the appropriate level of cleanup to hold good samaritans to? If a party lacks the resources to restore a site to pristine conditions, should it be precluded from contributing lesser environmental benefits that it can only afford? Finally, if we establish a policy that calls for only rigorous cleanups to be pursued and excludes marginal improvements, should we allow good samaritans to offset their costs in the process of the remediation activities? I look forward to an educational and enlightening hearing, one that will explore the multitude of issues that involve the remediation of AMLs. I welcome our witnesses here today and will be calling you to the table after other members have an opportunity to share some comments. Without objection, those who cannot join us will be permitted the opportunity to provide written testimony for the record. Now, I turn to my the full committee Ranking Member, Sen. Baucus. Sen. Baucus?

LOAD-DATE: June 23, 2000, Friday

Previous Document Document 18 of 21. Next Document


Search Terms: mine waste, House or Senate or Joint
To narrow your search, please enter a word or phrase:
About LEXIS-NEXIS® Congressional Universe Terms and Conditions Top of Page
Copyright © 2001, LEXIS-NEXIS®, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.