Murray Fights Mining Provision; Calls for Comprehensive Debate on Mining Law

For Immediate Release: July 27, 1999

(Washington DC) U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today, along with Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), offered an amendment to strike a provision, placed in the Interior Appropriations bill by Senator Larry Craig (R-Id), that eliminates limits on the dumping of mining waste on public land. Senator Murray unsuccessfully fought the Craig amendment last month during full committee markup of the Interior Appropriations bill.

"Mining law in our country is badly in need of broad reform and modernization and working within the confines of the 1872 Mining Law highlights that point," said Murray. "Riders tacked on to appropriations bills do not address all the serious problems associated with the 1872 Mining Law. This law deserves serious debate, not political maneuvering for the sake of a 'quick fix' that only benefits the mining industry."

In May, Senator Murray fought a similar provision, offered by Senator Slade Gorton (R-Wash.), involving the Crown Jewel mine in Washington state with the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill. The provision, over the objection of Senator Murray, was accepted in conference committee.

"I am not attacking the mining industry. I am just looking for a fair deal," said Murray. "The mining industry is treated exceptionally well by the old law - American taxpayers are not."

The hardrock mining industry, unlike the oil, gas and coal industries, do not pay royalties to the U.S. Treasury. These royalties are used to mitigate the impacts that mining operations have on the communities and the environment in which they are performed.

"Clearly, we need reform of the 1872 Mining Law - but not in this way," said Murray. "We should give the American public time to learn of the issues and provide input."

A motion to table Senator Murray's amendment was agreed to 55-41.