The Trump Administration is trying to force mining into the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST-41) program, which was established by legislation passed in 2015 to fund and expedite permitting for infrastructure projects. This proposal disingenuously exploits that legislation. In 2018, seven US Senators in a joint letter clearly stated Congress never intended for hardrock mines to qualify for this. It is a handout to the mining industry at the expense of public health and the environment. Mines are not “infrastructure,” nor surface transportation. They produce vast quantities of waste, much of it hazardous, that must be managed forever. Even with modern mining technology, water pollution, enormous waste rock piles, heavy metal laden dust, and toxic spills are the norm.
Below is a statement from Bonnie Gestring, Earthworks’ Northwest Program Director.
“This last-minute effort by the Trump administration to jam mining into a fast-track program is entirely inappropriate for an industry that is the country’s leading source of toxic pollution. We need more oversight to reduce the damage and public costs imposed by mining, not less. The General Mining Law that governs today’s mining industry was passed in 1872, a relic that too often leaves communities exposed to harmful pollution in perpetuity and taxpayers responsible for cleanup costs. Bringing this outdated law into the 21st Century should be a top priority for the Biden administration and Congress. This attempt to squeeze mining into FAST-41 is headed in the wrong direction.”