Washington, D.C. -- EARTHWORKS has been working for over a decade to bring attention to the serious issue of abandoned metal mines in the West. Communities, agricultural lands, and our fish and wildlife resources are at risk from the water pollution caused by these old mines. A real solution is needed to address this pervasive problem that affects many western watersheds.
Today, December 13, 2005, Congressman Jim Gibbons (R-Nevada), Chairman of the House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee announced that he was officially dropping the controversial mining provisions that he and House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-California) inserted into a budget reconciliation bill.
"We applaud Congressman Gibbons' decision to drop the mining subtitle from the budget reconciliation bill," said Stephen D'Esposito, president of EARTHWORKS. "We welcome the call of Representative Gibbons, and the call of Senators around the West from both parties, to consider meaningful mining reform in the coming year and we look forward to working with all parties to promote the multiple goals of protecting communities and our public lands, safeguarding our natural resource heritage, and ensuring economic development and responsible mining practices."
EARTHWORKS, Oxfam America, and Westerners for Responsible Mining applaud commitment by nation's leading retail jewelers to protect America's treasured public lands, including the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness
Washington, DC--Jewelers of America, the nation's largest retail jewelry trade association, sent a letter to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert on Monday night urging him to strip controversial 'mining' provisions from the House budget reconciliation bill. The letter, signed by Jewelers of America President and CEO Matthew A. Runci, expressed grave concern that the mining provisions authored by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-California) "would result in a massive giveaway of public land giveaway to corporations and private interests."
Washington, DC - House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) has written draft legislation for the budget reconciliation bill that would alter the 1872 Mining Law and repeal a 10-year moratorium on the selling of public land to multi-national mining companies. Congress plans to start the budget reconciliation process this month.
If the patent moratorium is repealed, treasured places throughout the West could be permanently removed from America's system of public lands. As a result, those Americans who hunt, fish, hike, and recreate in these areas will be permanently denied the access they currently enjoy. The fate of rivers and streams running through these lands, providing water for agriculture and municipalities, will be left largely to mining companies to determine, as will the health of wildlife and game habitat.
Juneau, Alaska - The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) today issued a precedent-setting permit that will allow a mining company to dump 4.5 million tons of chemically-processed mine waste directly into Lower Slate Lake on the Tongass National Forest, effectively turning the freshwater lake into a dead zone. The permit clears the way for final approval of Coeur Alaska's proposed Kensington gold mine, whose facilities would stretch across the Berners Bay watershed, which is home to sea lions, humpback whales, four species of wild salmon, bald eagles, brown and black bears, and moose.
APRIL 13, 2005 - A widely-used oil and gas production technique is threatening drinking water supplies in many states and should be regulated to protect human health and property values, a panel of experts said today.
During a national teleconference discussion on "hydraulic fracturing" (also known as "fracking"), an Environmental Protection Agency whistle-blower joined municipal water managers, geochemists and private landowners from across the country in calling on Congress and the EPA to protect drinking water supplies from fracking. The technique has impacted drinking water supplies in at least three states.
Washington, DC - The FY2005 Interior Appropriations bill, introduced yesterday by Interior Subcommittee Chair Conrad Burns (R-MT), includes a provision that would delay the increase in the claim maintenance fee that mining companies must pay to maintain an exclusive option to mine on public land.
The fee increase, which was written into rule by the Bush Administration this past July, would raise the fee from $100 to $125 per year. This increase was the first attempt to raise the fee since its original authorization by Congress in 1993. The claim fee, along with a $25 fee to initially stake a mining claim, are the only payment to the public for mining on public lands and are intended to cover administrative costs rather than act as a fair payment to the public. The public does not receive a royalty for the $1 billion in minerals extracted from public lands each year.