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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.

   I might add going through this process the Crown Jewel Mine project secured over 50 permits to comply with State and national environmental laws. In fact, the director of the Washington State Department of Ecology said, and I quote, ``The most rigorous environmental analysis the State has ever conducted on a project of this type,'' referring to the Crown Jewel Mine. ``No other proposal has received this level of environmental scrutiny.''

   Now, the reason that I bring this up is because what caused the amendment to be brought forth on the supplemental budget that we passed earlier this year is that in December of 1998 the Federal District Court upheld the EIS and the record decision. In other words, Battle Mountain Gold project could proceed forward. They were advised in January of 1999 by the BLM, the United States Forest Service, that the final formal approvals of the project were imminent and ready to go. Specifically, on February 4, the U.S. Forest Service advised Battle Mountain Gold to come in the next day, on February 5, for approval of the plan of operations.

   On February 5, a day later, they went in to talk to the Forest Service; and the Forest Service advised them that this decision was kicked up to Washington, D.C.

   And we heard a number of Members mention about the solicitor. That caused, then, the rider to be put on the supplemental bill to protect this project. Because they played by the rules, as was laid out when they went through this whole process.

   That is exactly what they did, is played by the rules. They have invested $80 million in this project. From the standpoint of employment in an area where unemployment is high in my district, this would provide somewhere between 150 and 250 jobs over the life of the project.

   So the response here is not something that deals, I think, as the debate has been going on, because in the short time I have been here, when I served on the Committee on Resources, there has been a lot of talk about reforming the 1872 Mining Law, and I think everybody wants to sit down and probably arrive at a reasonable accommodation. But the specific reason, I want to point out again, was because this company acted in good faith under existing rules and applications to go through with this project, and all of a sudden it was pulled out.

   Now, we do not always react positively in terms of how the Senate reacts. We have to do what we think is the right thing to do. I believe the Rahall amendment really is a step back from where we were when we passed that rider on the supplemental bill. As a matter of fact, as I mentioned, that rider was specifically for the Battle Mountain Gold Company. But if the Rahall amendment were to pass and there were further permits that were required of the Battle Mountain Gold it could, therefore, end that project again. And again, to reiterate, that project proceeded under existing rules.

   So I oppose the Rahall amendment, and I would certainly encourage Members of the respective authorization committee to work on the 1872 Mining Law, because it has certainly been talked about enough. And perhaps this debate may be the emphasis to continue forward. I do not know. But I believe the Rahall amendment is ill-advised here, and I urge Members to vote against it.

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

   Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.

   Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask the other side here, because here we have a memorandum from the Office of the Solicitor of the Bureau of Land Management, I guess it is the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior, I would like to hear if anybody here disputes this. The Mining Law of 1872 provides that only one millsite of no more than 5 acres may be patented in association with each mining claim. Does anybody disagree with that?

   The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from Washington (Mr. HASTINGS) has expired.

   (On request of Mr. DICKS, and by unanimous consent, Mr. HASTINGS of Washington was allowed to proceed for 2 additional minutes.)

   Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, if the gentleman will continue to yield, I would like to hear somebody address the law here. What we have heard is a lot of rhetoric, but I would like to hear somebody address the statute and tell us, and is there a difference in language here? Because when I read this statute, it looks as if it does have this limitation.

   Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Chairman, my understanding is that that is an opinion and not specifically in law, but the gentleman from Nevada (Mr. GIBBONS), who is on the committee and whose State has a great deal of mining law, may have a more elaborate response for the gentleman.

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

   Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I yield to the gentleman from Nevada.

   Mr. GIBBONS. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding to me and the gentleman from Washington (Mr. DICKS) as well.

   It is true, if we look at the statute that was proposed by the gentleman from Washington up there, it is specific as to the size of it, but it does not restrict it to only a single claim. It allows for a millsite to be attached to and contiguous to a mining claim, but the millsite is only 5 acres.

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

   Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.

   Mr. DICKS. But as I understand it, if there are multiple claims, then there could be multiple millsites on each of 5 acres. Is that the understanding of the gentleman?

   Mr. GIBBONS. If the gentleman from Washington (Mr. HASTINGS) will continue to yield, that is not the understanding, not according to the law. And I will read to the gentleman from the BLM manual.

   Mr. DICKS. Wait a minute, not the manual.

   Mr. GIBBONS. Well, the manual interprets the law.

   Mr. DICKS. The statute here. Maybe this is where we hit the rut. Maybe the manual was wrong, but we have to go back to the statute. And I am asking the gentleman about the statute. As I read the statute, it appears to limit each millsite to 5 acres per claim. And that is the law.

   Mr. GIBBONS. What the gentleman is reading from is the opinion of the solicitor which limits it, versus the statute which is on the board. There is no limitation as to the number.

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   The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from Washington (Mr. HASTINGS) has expired.

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

   I would like the gentleman from Washington (Mr. INSLEE) to put up his chart for me, and then I would like to enter into a colloquy. We can just go through this section.

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

   Mr. DICKS. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.

   Mr. INSLEE. First off, this is the law. This is the statute from the United States Annotated Code. This is the law.


[Time: 17:15]

   What the executive branch says in some manual or letter or memorandum or written on the back of an envelope, or they can say it every day until doom's day, but it does not make a difference. This is the law passed by the United States Congress, signed by the President in 1872. Anything else is quite meaningless, frankly.

   What it says, very clearly: ``Where nonmineral land not contiguous to the vein or lode is used or occupied by the proprietor of such vein or lode for mining or milling purposes, such nonadjacent surface ground may be embraced and included in an application for a patent for such vein or lode, and the same may be patented therewith, subject to the same preliminary requirements as to survey and notices as are applicable to the veins or loads; but no location made on and after May 10, 1872, of such nonadjacent land shall exceed five acres.''

   Now, I understand that the argument is, well, they could have 5 acres here, and they can have 5 acres right next to it, and they could have another 5 acres right next to that; they could have 5 acres until they go all the way from Canada to Oregon and the State of Washington.

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