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For those of my colleagues who were not familiar with this process, these leach pads are hundreds of feet high. They are huge. They are constantly

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sprinkled with cyanide to leach out the gold. We move hundreds of tons of dirt and rock and ore and waste to get an ounce of gold. That is this process.

   Technology has changed the nature of gold mining. Why do we not have a debate on modernizing the gold mining industry? Why do we not have a debate about this industry that now can go into such low grade ore to make this kind of profit? Can they not pay the people of the United States something for the use of the land? No. Their alternative is to come here in the middle of the night and try to strike another rider on the appropriations bill so that they will not have to have that debate.

   We ought to support the Rahall-Shays-Inslee amendment.

   Mr. GIBBONS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

   Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the Rahall amendment. I want to bring it back into a little bit of focus, if I can. It has been a long time since I was in the third grade and when I learned basic volumetric analysis about what we can do and what we cannot do.

   One thing my parents always told me is, one cannot put 10 pounds in a 5-pound bag. Here we have got a 20-acre load claim, 20-acre site, and now we are restricting it to 5 acres, attempting to take most of the material off of a 20-acre area and put it into a 5-acre parcel. That is an impossibility. It is physically impossible. It has to be understood.

   But other than that, let me say that I rise to oppose this amendment for several reasons, one of which, it is going to allow a Solicitor, it is going to put law behind an opinion that was not a final judicial opinion. There has been no debate on this. It did not come through the committees. There was no debate on the merits of this issue. There was no hearing on this. It suddenly appeared from the dark of night, as the gentleman from California (Mr. GEORGE MILLER) has said, and now it is before us. There has been no public input on this measure, all for the purpose of destroying a mining industry.

   I want to say that, in March of this year, the Solicitor at the Department of Interior reinterpreted a long-standing provision of the law, then relied on his new interpretation to stop a proposed gold mine in the State of Washington.

   Well, this proposed gold mine has gone through a comprehensive environmental review by Federal and State regulators which was upheld by a Federal district court.

   They had met every, and I repeat, every environmental standard required and secured over 50 permits to operate. The mine qualified for their permits after spending $80 million of their money and waiting 7 years to get into operation.

   The local Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service officials informed this mine and their sponsors that they, in fact, had qualified for the permit, and they should come to their office to receive it. It was then noted that the Solicitor in Washington who intervened used his novel interpretation of the law to reject the permit.

   The Rahall amendment is cleverly designed to codify this administrative reinterpretation. This interpretation has been implemented without any congressional oversight, as I have said, or rulemaking, which would be open for public review and input and comment on this proposal.

   This was a calculated effort to give broad discretion to the Solicitor to stop mining projects that met all environmental standards; and yet we are opposed by environmental extremists and special interest groups.

   This amendment should be defeated, and the Solicitor should be required to seek out a congressional change in the law or either a formal rulemaking, giving the impacted parties an opportunity to comment on the change.

   If allowed to stand, this Interior Department ruling will render the mining law virtually meaningless and shut down all hard-rock mining operations and projects, representing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investments throughout the West.

   This amendment will destroy the domestic mining industry, and with the price of gold at $257, not near $300, $257, which is a new 30-year low, the second largest industry in my State will cease to exist.

   I think Congress must pay attention if it is intending to put industries, valid industries, legal industries out of business. If the Secretary or his Solicitor has problems with the United States mining law, then they should take these problems to Congress to be debated in the light of day before the American public.

   Laws are not made by unelected bureaucrats. Bureaucrats administer those laws that we enact here in Congress. Congress has to approve whether or not they agree with the laws.

   It is the duty of the government in a democracy to deal honestly with its citizens, not cheat them.

   As the Wall Street Journal stated recently, and I quote: ``If the Solicitor's millsite opinion is allowed to stand, investment in the United States will be as risky as Third World Nations.''

   The International Union of Operating Engineers oppose the Rahall amendment on the basis that, if it passed, it will force the continued loss of high-paying jobs in the U.S. that are directly or indirectly related to the industry. These are many blue collar jobs in every congressional district we have in the United States.

   Furthermore, Mr. Chairman, the Constitution gives the people control over the laws that govern them by requiring that statutes be affirmed personally by legislators and the President elected by the people. Majorities in the House and the Senate must enact laws, and constituents can refuse to reelect legislators who have voted for a bad law. Many Americans no longer believe that they have government by and for the people.

   Mr. Chairman, I oppose this amendment very strongly.

   Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

   Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this amendment. It is important that the House take a stand on this mining issue in this bill because the Interior bill in the other body already contains a rider on this matter.

   Let me start with an assertion that probably would receive broad agreement across the ideological spectrum: the current state of American mining law is a travesty. Mining is governed by an outmoded law passed over a century ago, and Congress has not significantly modified it since 1960. One result is that taxpayers have been denied billions of dollars as mining rights are given away at rates that were probably even a cause for celebration back in 1872, when the law was originally written.

   So we have an outmoded law that cheats taxpayers, and what do some want to do? They want to override the one provision of the 1872 law that actually provides the taxpayers some protection. That is the effect of the language that was in the supplemental appropriation and the language that has been proposed in the other body. That language would, in effect, repeal the clear language of the 1872 act that prevents mining companies from despoiling unlimited amounts of Federal land, land they get at a bargain rate, destroying that land with hazardous waste.

   This amendment would put the House on record against efforts to give away more Federal land so that mining companies can use it as a waste site. It would block those efforts, not by doing anything radical, but simply by reaffirming long-standing Federal law. That is environmentally responsible and fiscally responsible.

   If we are going to revisit the 1872 mining law, we need to do it comprehensively. What we should not do is attack the 1872 act piecemeal as part of the appropriations process in ways that remove the few provisions that protect taxpayers and the environment.

   I urge support of this amendment which reaffirms current law and protects taxpayers.

   Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?

   Mr. BOEHLERT. I yield to the gentleman from West Virginia.

   Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New York for yielding to me, and I appreciate very much his support. He has always been one that speaks with an even hand and wants to balance our environmental needs along with the needs to provide jobs in industry.

   Several comments were made by the gentleman from Nevada (Mr. GIBBONS) in regard to trying to stuff a 20-pound

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waste into a 5-pound bag, something to that effect, alluding to the fact that this particular provision needs to be changed, this 5-acre limitation that has existed even prior to 1872 actually when we consider the load claims and the Placer Act that were combined in the passage of the mining law of 1872.

   I am not adverse to looking at changes. That is what I have been trying to do since I have been in this body for 20 some years now is make amendments and make reform of this mining law of 1872 so that we can have jobs in the industry and have protection of the environment at the same time.

   So I say to the gentleman, I will be glad to look at the comprehensive reform of the mining law. We have tried that in this body. Unfortunately, it has not passed the other body. So I think, if we can have that type of reform, we can probably address some of these needs.

   I would say also to industry, many of whom when we have tried to reform in the mining law have been moderate and responsible and wanting to sit down at the table and work with us, including the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. REGULA), the subcommittee chairman.

   There is always, of course, as there is in any facet of society, that fringe out there that does not want to sit down at the table and wants to torpedo any effort at reform.

   So we have tried to reform this law. We have even passed a bill out of this House of Representatives in a bipartisan passion only to see it move nowhere in the other body.

   So what we are doing here in this particular amendment, while we cannot look at the entire reform in the mining law, and we are not doing that in this amendment, we are looking at that 5-acre limitation that has been current law that the Interior Department has decided of late to try to enforce, and that is what we are trying to do here with this 5-acre limitation.

   So I say to the gentleman from Nevada (Mr. GIBBONS), if that is not sufficient, I am willing to look at it in the context of overall reform.

   Mr. GIBBONS. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman from New York (Mr. BOEHLERT) yield?

   Mr. BOEHLERT. I am glad to yield to the gentleman from Nevada.

   Mr. GIBBONS. Mr. Chairman, I really appreciate the comment of the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. RAHALL), only because, if one looks at the law and one interprets it from a reasonable person's standard, it says a single 5-acre millsite. But it does not limit the number. Five acres was there because they did not want to have more property used than was necessary. One can go out and get a number of 5-acre millsites if it needs more than one. That is the purpose and that is what the practice has been.

   To restrict it to a single 5-acre millsite, as the gentleman is attempting to do with his amendment, would say to them that they can no longer have the room to put the excess waste from a 20-acre claim on more than one 5-acre parcel, which then has the effect of shutting down every mine, because it is retroactive according to the language the gentleman has got. It will go back, and it will destroy an industry that has long been one that has produced the quality of life that we have today.

   Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

   Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the Rahall-Shays-Inslee amendment. The Senate Committee on Appropriations has included an anti-environmental, anti-taxpayer rider offered by Senator LARRY CRAIG in its version of the Interior appropriations bill that would allow all hard-rock mines operating on public lands, retroactively and prospectively, to claim as much public land as a mining company deems necessary to store mining waste. The mining company decides how much land it needs, public land.

   Now, why do they call it a rider? Where does that come from? An anti-environmental rider. What that means is that this is a vehicle, a horse, something that is moving.


[Time: 17:00]

   And the rider jumps on board something that is legitimate, and it holds on. It is a rider on something it does not belong on. They should not be legislating, putting a rider on an appropriations bill, changing the 1872 Mining Law. That is a big legislative debate out here on the floor.

   God knows, the mining industry has known how to kill all mining reform in my 24 years in Congress. It must come as a shock to them that they are forced now, once there is one favorable interpretation of the mining law that helps the environment, that they are out here on the floor, not even going through the regular legislative process, but rather trying to put a rider on a bill that does not even belong on.

   So what we are trying to do here today is knock that anti-environmental rider, knock that anti-taxpayer rider out of the appropriations process. It does not belong on this bill. We should not be debating such a fundamental change.

   What we are talking about here today is something called the Crown Jewel Mine at Buckhorn Mountain in eastern Washington State. We are talking about the Crown Jewel Mine as a rider, as something that does not belong on an appropriations bill. Something as central as that. And what will it allow to happen? It will allow tons of rock from the mountain, which would be placed on huge uncovered leach pads where cyanide would percolate down through the soil to remove the gold from the rock. Cyanide. That is what we are talking about.

   When the mining industry finally decides that it wants to legislate, since 1872, it picks one great subject to put the rider on, cyanide leaching into the land of our country.

   So, my colleagues, that is what the Craig rider is all about. The rider was attached to the Senate version of the bill after the Departments of Interior and Agriculture released a joint decision earlier this year denying the large open-pit cyanide-leach gold mine in Washington State. The government told the mining industry that it could not steal the public's crown jewels, its public lands and its public resources in order to dig the mining industry's Crown Jewel cyanide leach Pit Mine.

   The government has been able to lock up, to block the Crown Jewel Mine only because of the millsite waste dumping limitation, which is the only provision of the 1872 Mining Law which protects the environment. It is the only provision in the whole law which protects the environment. And, of course, it is the only provision over the last 20 or 30 years that the mining industry wants to see any legislation considered here on the floor.

   In addition, the amendment would also effectively limit taxpayer liability for cleaning up the waste when and if mining companies go bankrupt, a not-too-infrequent occurrence, by the way, in the United States. There are 500,000 plus abandoned mines around the country, and the taxpayers' cleanup bill for these mines is $30 to $70 billion, $30 to $70 billion to clean up these mines. The Rahall amendment protects against it.

   My colleagues, let us reject the mining industry's attempts to attach these anti-environmental riders to the Interior appropriations bill. Let us prevent our Nation's public lands from being turned into toxic waste dumps. Let us vote for the Rahall-Shays-Inslee amendment.

   Mr. REGULA. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that all debate on this amendment and all amendments thereto be limited to 10 minutes to be equally divided. And let me say that I am just trying to expedite things here. We want to finish this bill tonight, and we have a number of amendments yet to go.

   The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Ohio?

   Mr. VENTO. Mr. Chairman, reserving the right to object, I do not know how many Members there are.

   Mr. REGULA. We have one more on our side.

   Mr. VENTO. We have two or three over here. So I think if the gentleman would consider, and I do not know if we need to proceed or if I am going to use all 5 minutes.

   Mr. REGULA. How about 20 minutes?

   Mr. RAHALL. Each side?

   Mr. REGULA. No, total.

   The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Ohio?

   Mr. RAHALL. Reserving the right to object, Mr. Chairman. I think we have several more speakers on our side; and I would ask that that time be expanded, please.

   Mr. DICKS. What about 30 minutes?

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   Mr. REGULA. Well, obviously, the gentleman has the right to object, so he can call it. I was hoping we could get it for 20 minutes, but if 30 is all I can get agreement on, then it has to be 30.

   The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman's unanimous consent request is that debate on this amendment and all amendments thereto conclude in 30 minutes equally divided 15 minutes to each side.

   Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Ohio?

   Mr. SHAYS. Reserving the right to object, there are a number of speakers who support this amendment who would like to speak, and the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. REGULA) is basically saying there is only 15 minutes, and the gentleman also says he has one gentleman who wants to speak in opposition. So I am just having a little bit of trouble with that.

   The CHAIRMAN. Does the gentleman choose to object?

   Mr. DICKS. I think we should just proceed, Mr. Chairman.

   The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman withdraws his request.

   Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

   I rise in opposition to this amendment, Mr. Chairman, and I do so following my friend from Massachusetts, who is always a joy to hear on the floor, although sometimes what he says is not entirely all the facts. So let me point out what the facts are in this particular case and why we are addressing this issue today.

   First of all, this gold mine that started all this process is indeed in my district. The plan of operation started in 1992. They went through the draft environmental process and the record decision was let after 5 years, in January of 1997. Nearly 2 years later, after going through a number of appeals, the Federal Court upheld the EIS that was arrived at going through that process.

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