This week, the House Natural Resources subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing entitled, “Exploring 21st Century Mining Safety, Environmental Control, and Technological Innovation”. There is no question mining has undergone sweeping technological changes since the era of picks and shovels- men pursuing their Manifest Destiny by seeking their fortunes from the gold buried in the hills. Nowadays, mining relies heavily on remotely controlled automation, wireless monitoring, drones and virtual reality goggles designed to reduce costs and improve safety.
Late last week, John Quigley, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, abruptly resigned. News reports pointed to a controversial email in which Mr. Quigley angrily demanded that environmental groups more boldly defend proposed oil and gas regulations.
It didn’t take long for some legislators to accuse Mr. Quigley of governmental impropriety. In the meantime, the email controversy continues to generate media stories.
The passage of the Oak Flat Land Exchange -- that terrible piece of legislation buried within the depths of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act -- was the last major piece of news regarding the proposed Resolution Copper Mine near Superior, Arizona. This is the mine that would destroy the publicly owned Oak Flat -- the area sacred to the San Carlos Apache Tribe, and the place used for decades by rock climbers, campers and hikers.