Washington, D.C.- U.S. Rep. Inslee's amendment to protect
taxpayers from subsidizing the mining industry even further passed
the House of Representatives late tonight in a 273 to 151 vote.
Inslee's amendment is endorsed by Taxpayers for Common Sense, as
well as the League of Conservation Voters and the Mineral Policy
Inslee pointed out that, "Environmental law needs to go forward,
not backward. Taxpayers have one, and only one, protection in our
mining law, and that is the part that says if you are going to open
a mine on public land and pay nothing for it, you cannot dump your
cyanide waste on more than five acres of taxpayer's land. This is a
common sense, existing, black and white law on the books of this
country, and we should not roll environmental law backwards
Added Inslee, "Taxpayers already pick up the tab for the mining
industry's free minerals, free land, and free waste disposal sites.
My amendment would stop expansion of these giveaways. Taxpayers
should not be liable for cleaning up unlimited wastes, when and if
mining companies go bankrupt."
Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Inslee led a fight to prevent Sen.
Slade Gorton's rider to the emergency spending bill, which allowed
the mining industry to override the 1872 Mining Law in the case of
the Crown Jewel Mine in Washington State, from becoming law.
Tonight's Inslee mining amendment is an effort to block the Craig
Rider to the Interior Appropriations bill, which passed the Senate
Appropriations Committee, and which will eliminate the five acre
millsite waste dumping limitation all over the country.
Under the Mining Law of 1872, gold, silver and other valuable
minerals are still mined from public lands with no royalty to the
American people. Better yet, at least from the standpoint of the
multinational mining conglomerates which hold most of the mining
claims, up to five acres of public lands per mining claim may be
used to dispose of mining wastes.
Mining waste dumps are responsible for poisoning streams, lakes
and groundwater with toxic metals such as lead, cadmium, and
arsenic, as well as chemicals such as cyanide.
Incredible as it may sound, the mining industry now says that
this sweetheart deal is no longer sufficient. The industry insists
that it should receive unlimited quantities of public lands
for waste disposal.
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