Alan Septoff, (202) 887-1872×105, aseptoff@earthwo
“Today, the House of Representatives voted 229 to 183 to support corporate mining interests over public interests. Mr. Amodei’s (R-NV) amendment to the defense bill funding our troops masquerades as critical minerals policy, but instead threatens our waters and disempowers our communities.
Truly critical are clean water, air and public health. Our bedrock environmental laws also allow communities to have a say in projects that impact them. Limiting input from mining-affected communities would take us in the wrong direction. We need to change U.S. mining policy, but not by loosening oversight, nor by cutting the public out of our government’s decisions. We need accountability. Communities across the country live with pollution from mining accidents. And taxpayers — not the polluters — too often pay for cleanup. Comprehensive reform of the outdated 1872 General Mining Law is the solution to this problem, not giving the mining industry yet another special favor.”
Masquerading as a bill about “strategic and critical minerals,” this amendment strips key water, health and community protections against the nation’s largest toxic polluter, the hardrock mining industry.
The amendment, based on Rep. Amodei’s HR 520, defines nearly anything dug from the ground as a “critical” mineral including common minerals like sand and gravel. For more than 40 years, NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) reviews have provided regulatory certainty and a transparent, fair process for permit seekers and communities to engage their government in mining permitting decisions. Representative Amodei’s amendment would do away with this well-established process.