Strict enforcement urged of mining rules
October 4, 1999
Web posted at: 11:33 a.m. EDT (1533 GMT)
Unless mining regulations are modernized, taxpayers will spend billions to clean up public lands polluted by mines, according to the Mineral Policy Center.
More needs to be done to enforce hardrock-mining regulations and some regulatory gaps need to be addressed, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Research Council.
"What's needed now is explicit action to ensure that current regulations work as they are supposed to and that any existing regulatory gaps are filled," Perry Hagenstein, chair of the committee that prepared the report, said in a statement.
After a cursory review of the report, both a mining watchdog group and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt cautiously praised the council for recognizing the need for changes in the regulation of hardrock mining.
Babbitt said that the report is an endorsement of his decision in January 1997 to revise the regulations. Babbitt has been particularly vocal about his opposition to the 1872 Mining Law that permits hardrock minerals on public lands to be mined for $2.50, or $5 per acre.
The biggest criticism of the report to date is that it does not address the specifics of mining reform. "Although they say we need more enforcement, they're a bit relaxed on asking for overall reform," said Krista Dahlberg, a spokesperson for the Mineral Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
The center released a report, "6 Mines, 6 Mishaps," on Wednesday to coincide with the release of the National Research Council's report. The report takes a close look at six mining operations to demonstrate the gaps in environmental regulation of mining on public lands.
According to the center, their report cost considerably less than the $800,000 National Research Council report and demonstrates in more detail how tax payers will spend billions to clean up public lands unless mining regulations are modernized.
According to the center, the council finds similar evidence of the environmental harm caused by hardrock mining, but it fails to make the necessary regulatory reform recommendations. "To justify the expenditure of $800,000, the recommendations should match the evidence," said Steven D'Esposito, director of the Mineral Policy Center.
The center is busy going over the details of the council's report and will issue a full critique of the report within a few weeks. Babbitt said that the Department of the Interior would re-open the period for public comment on their proposed mining law reforms for 120 days in order to gather comments generated by the report.
Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved
NOAA studies Smoky Mountain ozone
July 13, 1999
RELATED ENN STORIES:
Sociologist pushes a new western mentality
Alaskan river unaffected by mining operations
Mountain top removal mining called illegal
Babbitt pushes for mining law reform
New World Gold Mine deal close to sealed
National Research Council
Mineral Policy Center
Department of the Interior
A Primer on the Mining Law of 1872 by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Wildlife Federation
Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.