Next Hit        Forward           Next Document     New CR Search
Prev Hit        Back              Prev Document     HomePage
Hit List        Best Sections     Daily Digest      Help
                Doc Contents      


Now, enter heap leach mining. It requires a lot more Federal land, a lot greater number of acres to extract a

[Page: H5518]  GPO's PDF
small amount of gold through the process of heaping up the land and dosing it with cyanide.

   Now, they say because we are having to extract from many, many more acres of land, which we paid $2.50 an acre for and make bigger and bigger piles, we need more places to process the ore and more acres of public land, for which they will pay $2.50 an acre if they patent it.

   Now, I just want to relate this to the debate we are going to have in a few moments over the issue of recreation fees and since the gentleman from Massachusetts did not bring Grandma, who he often brings up in these issues, into this, I want to bring Grandma in. He always talk about Grandma and the kids going out to the forest and doing this and doing that.

   Let us just envision Grandma today. She drives up to the national forest, she drives her car to the end of the road and wants to take the grandkids for a little hike to see the wildflowers. Guess what? There is a little metal box there that says you have got to pay $3 to park your car. And she does. Her car occupies maybe 200 square feet. She has got to pay three bucks to park the car. The mining company wants to park wastes forever for $2.50 an acre.

   Now, Grannie would be better off if she filed a claim and got a patent and paid $2.50 for an acre, she could open a parking lot and other people could park there, she could charge them a buck and a half, they would save a buck and a half, and everybody would come out ahead.

   This is absurd. Because we are not asking people to pay their fair share, we are now sticking it to the little guy, and the fair share is an industry that makes hundreds of millions, billions of dollars a year, many of them foreign-owned and operated, operating on lands in the western United States, paying not a penny in royalties to the Federal Government and getting the land for $2.50 an acre.

   This law must be reformed. If by adopting this amendment we squeeze a little bit and it hurts a little bit and we get a rational debate in the committee of jurisdiction on which I serve and we then finally, finally bring this law into the 20th century and finally begin to protect the taxpayers and the environmental interests, this will be a very meritorious and historic moment.

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

   Mr. DeFAZIO. I yield to the gentleman from Ohio.

   (On request of Mr. REGULA, and by unanimous consent, Mr. DEFAZIO was allowed to proceed for 1 additional minute.)

   Mr. REGULA. Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to advise the gentleman that there has been a moratorium on patenting mining claims since fiscal year 1995. So Grannie has not been able to get a patent because of the appropriations riders. Please tell Grannie there are no more patents.

   Mr. DeFAZIO. I thank the gentleman for that. I hope it becomes permanent or we extract a royalty in the future. I thank the gentleman for his clarification.

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

   Mr. Chairman, I rise to express my very strong opposition to the Rahall amendment.

   This amendment to me is nothing more than a cheap attempt to impose on the Congress the anti-mining political agenda of unelected bureaucrats at the Department of the Interior, an agency with a proven track record of hostility towards mining and the industries upon which they depend.

   In November of 1997, the Solicitor of the Department issued an opinion which concluded that our mining laws contain a limit upon the patenting of millsites, despite the fact that no previous solicitor has ever interpreted the law to do so, nor has any court of law and nor has Congress.

   This opinion reinterprets a longstanding provision of law that would require mines to drastically reduce the size of their millsites connected to mining claims. The opinion was not based in reality and neither is this amendment.

   Like many in this body, I seek to reform the mining laws of this country. But the 104th Congress passed significant amendments to our mining laws, including the imposition of a 5 percent royalty, payment of fair market value for lands and establishment of abandoned hardrock mined land fund.

   But President Clinton vetoed that bill because Congress refused to give the Secretary of Interior unbridled authority to ``just say no'' to mining.

   Do not be fooled by its proponents. This amendment is not mining reform. The Rahall-Shays-Inslee amendment is an attempt to cede legislative branch authority to a small group of unelected bureaucrats and lawyers working feverishly to impose their unorthodox views on mining before they pack up and leave office. It is just that simple.

   Reject this amendment.

   Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

   Mr. Chairman, first of all I would like to thank the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. REGULA) and the gentleman from Washington (Mr. DICKS) for the bipartisanship they have shown in crafting this piece of legislation. All of our committees and subcommittees, I think, would be a lot better off if we worked in the bipartisan way that they have demonstrated in their subcommittee. I applaud them also on maintaining the moratorium on the patents.

   But I rise here today, one, to disagree with the gentleman from Texas, because the law is clear and the law should be interpreted the way it is. And so I rise in strong support of the Rahall-Shays-Inslee amendment, because I think it sends a strong message to the Senate to stop loading up appropriations bills with antienvironmental riders.

   Why is the Senate attempting to legislate in this way? Why do we here in this body attempt substantive legislation in appropriations bills? The simple answer is, these kinds of proposals could not survive in the normal legislative process. They could not survive in the light of day. This, plain and simple, is a giveaway. If we want to reform the 1872 mining law, let us do it in our committees.

   This body in 1993 passed with a large bipartisan majority an 1872 mining law reform bill. There were hearings. We heard from all interested parties. We addressed this issue in a thoughtful and substantive way. The other body is doing just the opposite with this antienvironmental rider. There is no bill. Interested parties have not been given an opportunity to testify. This issue has not been considered in a thoughtful, substantive way. Plain and simple, this is a special interest provision to help one mining company.

   Now, an amendment I think is always known for its supporters and this amendment is supported by over 70 taxpayer and environmental organizations, including the Taxpayers for Common Sense, the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club.

   A vote for this amendment is a vote for responsible legislating. A vote for this amendment is a vote for protecting the environment. A vote for this amendment is a vote to leave future generations with a cleaner, better world.

   Vote ``yes'' on Rahall-Shays-Inslee.

   Mr. GIBBONS. Mr. Chairman, I rise to oppose the Rahall amendment to the FY 2000 Interior Appropriations Act. This amendment will allow the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior to amend the existing mining law without congressional authorization.

   In March of this year, the Solicitor at the Department of the Interior reinterpreted a longstanding provision of law and then relied on his new interpretation to stop a proposed gold mine in Washington State.

   This proposed mine (Crown Jewel) had gone through a comprehensive environmental review by federal and state regulators, which was upheld by a federal district court.

   They had met every environmental standard required and secured over fifty permits. The mine qualified for their federal permit after spending $80 million and waiting over seven years.

   The local Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service officials informed the mine sponsors that they qualified for the permit and they should come to their office to receive it.

   It was then that the Solicitor in Washington D.C. intervened and used his novel interpretation of the law to reject the project. The Rahall amendment is cleverly designed to codify this administrative reinterpretation.

   This interpretation has been implemented without any Congressional oversight or rulemaking which would be open to public review and comment.

   This was a calculated effort to give broad discretion to the Solicitor to stop mining

[Page: H5519]  GPO's PDF
projects that met all environmental standards yet were still opposed by special interest groups.

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

   If allowed to stand, the Interior Department's 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 investment throughout the West.

   This amendment will destroy the domestic mining industry and with the price of gold at a new 30 year low, the second largest industry in Nevada will cease to exist. Pay attention Congress, mining will no longer exist in Nevada!

   If the Secretary or his solicitor has problems with the United States mining law then he 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 the laws Congress approves whether or not they agree with those laws.

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

   As the Wall Street Journal stated, ``if the Solicitor's millsite opinion is allowed to stand, investment in the U.S. will be as risky as third world nations''.

   The International Union of Operating Engineers opposes the Rahall Amendment on the basis that if passed it will force the continued loss of high paying U.S. direct and indirect blue-collar jobs in every Congressional district.

   The Constitution gives the people control over the laws that govern them by requiring that statutes be affirmed personally by legislators and a president elected by the people.

   Majorities in the House and Senate must enact laws and constituents can refuse to re-elect a legislator who has voted for a bad law.

   Many Americans no longer believe that they have a government by and for the people.

   They see government unresponsive to their concerns, beyond their control and view regulators as a class apart, serving themselves in the complete guise of serving the public.

   When regulators take it upon themselves to legislate through the regulatory process the people lose control over the laws that govern them.

   No defensible claim can be made that regulators possess superior knowledge of what constitutes the public good. Nor to take it upon themselves to create laws they want because of Congressional gridlock--the value laden word for a decision not to make law.

   The so-called gridlock that the policy elites view as so unconscionable was and is no problem for people who believe in the separation of powers doctrine contained in the Constitution which holds that laws indeed should not be made unless the broad support exists to get those laws through the Article I process of the Constitution, i.e. ``All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in Congress.''

   Let us debate the merits of the proposal, do not destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of miners just to appease special interest groups whose entire agenda is to rid our public lands of mining.

   If you have problems with mining on our public lands come and see me, together we can make positive changes but do not destroy the lives of my constituents today by supporting the Rahall amendment.

   Without mining none of us would have been able to get to work today, we would not have a house over our heads--because without mining we have nothing.

   Give our mining families a chance to earn a living, to work to provide the very necessities that you require. Oppose the Rahall amendment and support common sense on our public lands.

   The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. RAHALL).

   The question was taken; and the Chairman announced that the noes appeared to have it.

   Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.

   The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to House Resolution 243, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. RAHALL) will be postponed.

   Mr. KNOLLENBERG. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

   Mr. Chairman, I direct the attention of the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. REGULA) to the energy conservation budget in the Department of Energy. Energy conservation promotes reductions in energy use, reductions in waste of raw materials, and reductions of effluent discharge. It thus promotes cleaner water, cleaner air and cleaner soil.

   Specifically, Mr. Chairman, the Department of Energy has admirably focused on energy-intensive and waste-intensive processes.

   The U.S. Department of Energy has identified steel forging processes as an area that is ripe for improvement in energy conservation. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Defense has identified forging as a significant industry in the Department of Defense national security assessment.

   The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences' Precision Forging Consortium, better known as NCMS, has outlined Phase II of a specific, comprehensive, collaborative R&D project to establish new U.S. domestic precision forging capabilities. For a modest investment of $1.2 million this year, with well over 50 percent of the cost being borne by private partners, this second phase will complete the successful Phase I exploratory project.

   Phase II of this project will achieve very real and substantial returns in 18 months, and they are, namely, a tenfold improvement in tool-life; decreased die system cost; reductions in raw material consumption; reductions in effluent discharge; less scrap; reduced secondary machining requirements and billet design; lower forging temperatures; an overall 20 percent reduction in input energy.

   And importantly I wanted to note, too, Mr. Chairman, that this project has the support of the administration's Department of Energy Office of Industrial Technologies.

   Finally, Mr. Chairman, I just want to tell the gentleman from Ohio how I appreciate his kindness and courtesy in allowing me this time for the colloquy. I would urge obviously his consideration and support for this project in conference.

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

   Mr. KNOLLENBERG. I yield to the gentleman from Ohio.

   Mr. REGULA. I thank the gentleman from Michigan for bringing this proposal to my attention. This energy conservation project sounds very interesting, and it appears as though its continuation would fit appropriately with the work of the Department of Energy. I will be happy to work with him and with the Department of Energy to explore continuation of this effort as we move to conference on the Interior bill.

   Mr. KNOLLENBERG. I thank the gentleman. I look forward to working with him in that regard.

   Ms. WATERS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

   Mr. Chairman, I rise to speak in opposition to the Young amendment which would cut the funding for all the discretionary programs in this bill. I am particularly concerned about the effect this amendment would have on Native Americans. I am deeply disappointed by the amount of funding provided in this bill for the programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service. This bill provides $114 million less than the administration requested for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and $15 million less than the administration requested for the Indian Health Service program.

   The cuts in Indian school construction programs will be particularly devastating for Native Americans. The administration had proposed a new initiative to provide $30 million in bonds for school construction by Indian tribes in addition to an increase of $22 million in the funding for new school construction by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.


[Time: 17:45]

   The Committee on Appropriations did not provide any funding for the bond initiative, and the funding in this bill for school construction is virtually the same as last year.

   I realize the Committee on Appropriations has limited funds to work with in providing for programs in this bill; however, new school construction is desperately needed by many Indian tribes. Without new schools, Indian children will be unable to receive the education they so desperately need to succeed in our society.

   The Young amendment would make further cuts in school construction, health care, and other programs that serve Native Americans. This draconian amendment is unwise and unfair. The funding in this bill for programs serving Indians should be increased, not cut. The economy in the United States today is extraordinarily

[Page: H5520]  GPO's PDF
healthy. Nevertheless, the people who live on Indian reservations are some of the poorest people in our Nation. They desperately need funding for new schools and other infrastructure, health care and economic development. We cannot allow them to be left behind.

   Let me remind my colleagues that the President just took a tour of the poorest areas in our country to talk about new initiatives to help bring these communities on line with the new possibilities that are being created with this well-performing economy. I had a long conversation with the President when he finally reached California.

   He had been on an Indian reservation. The President of the United States, President Clinton, said he had never ever seen poverty like he saw on this Indian reservation. He said it was beyond comprehension. He said if someone thinks what they have seen in any inner-city in America is bad, they need but go on some of these Indian reservations and see the abject poverty that they are experiencing.

Next Hit        Forward           Next Document     New CR Search
Prev Hit        Back              Prev Document     HomePage
Hit List        Best Sections     Daily Digest      Help
                Doc Contents