As Expected, Amodei Voted “Aye” for yet Another Onerous Bill

Knowing that HR 2824, the Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America bill, would be coming up for a vote this week, I decided to write to Rep. Amodei to express my concerns regarding this onerous bill:

Dear Rep. Mark Amodei:

IAmodei15 strongly oppose passage of HR2824, the Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America. This bill would misdirect limited resources and limit State discretion in regulating industries within their borders, stomping the crap out of any future “State’s Rights” argument you might wish to make. The bill requires State surface coal mining regulatory agencies to implement the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule for a mandatory implementation period. In case you missed it, that rules does NOT adequately protect drinking water, nor does it protect watersheds from strip mining.

We’ve just see a few massive spills in streams that supply drinking water, yet HR2824 would limit each of those State’s abilities to tailor stream safeguards or to even maintain their currently adopted standards. For all the time Republicans harp about needless regulatory and legal uncertainty, this bill is a quintessential example for both. But worst of all, HR2824 requires States to waste significant taxpayer dollars adopting a rule that has been vacated by a Federal court.

The Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is currently developing a proposed Stream Protection Rule that provides for responsible development while protecting our communities and environment. Let them do their jobs. Updates in the proposed rule will reflect the significant technological and scientific advances in mining practices that avoid, minimize, and mitigate environmental damage from coal mining.

HR2824 does not adequately address the community, environmental, and health impacts of strip mining. And, if that isn’t bad enough, HR 2824 actually undermines efforts to better support public health, revenue generation and job creation in the Nation’s coal-producing regions.

Please vote NO when this bill comes to the floor for a vote.

So much for that.  My effort, once again, was in vain.  The vote was taken today, and Rep. Amodei voted ‘Aye,’ en bloc with the Republiban majority.

Bills Before Congress: July 9 -13

in the House

The Repeal of Obamacare Act
Would repeal the 2010 healthcare law. It’s the GOP response to the Supreme Court ruling on the law. The House Rules Committee is expected to consider this bill on Monday evening in an “emergency meeting” because the bill will be officially introduced on Monday by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). The House is expected to vote on the bill on Wednesday, July 11.

Republicans in the house have gone overboard this session mandating that each and every bill must specify “pay-fors.”  A repeal of “Obamacare” would pose a $230B increase in the budget deficit.  Watch to see if hypocrisy prevails and whether Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) identifies ANY “pay-fors” as part of his repeal effort that is going absolutely NOWHERE.  

The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act (HR 4402)
Aimed at streamlining the process for approving mining rights, and addressing what many see as an increasingly U.S. reliance on imported rare earth minerals that are key to manufacturing and national security.

Several non-controversial bills will also be considered in the House this week:

The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act (HR 4114)
Increases, effective as of Dec. 1, 2012, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans.

The Veteran Skills to Jobs Act (HR 4155)
Directs the head of each Federal department and agency to treat relevant military training as sufficient to satisfy training or certification requirements for Federal licenses.

HR 4367 amends the Electronic Fund Transfer Act to limit the fee disclosure requirement for an automatic teller machine to the screen of that machine.

The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act (HR 5892)
Improves hydropower.

The Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Reauthorization and the Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act (HR 6019)
Enhances the use of Juvenile Accountability Block Grants for programs to prevent and address occurrences of bullying and to reauthorize the Juvenile Accountability Block Grants program.

in the Senate

The Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act (S 2237) – The Senate will hold a procedural vote on this bill Tuesday afternoon.
This bill (#6 on POPVOX) would reduce corporate taxes on the first $5 million in wages paid in 2012 over 2011.

The Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act (S 1959)
Requires a report on the designation of the Haqqani Network as a foreign terrorist organization.

The Former Charleston Naval Base Land Exchange Act (S 2061)
Provides for an exchange of land between the Department of Homeland Security and the South Carolina State Ports Authority.

Other Bills of Interest

The Supreme Court ruling in favor of the healthcare bill prompted the introduction of several bills to repeal the law, none of which appear likely to advance because of the pending House vote on Cantor’s bill.

Three of these similar bills made the top of POPVOX’s most-commented list last week:

The NObamacare Act (HR 6053)
Repeals the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the health-related provisions of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 not declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court from Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.).

The Healthcare Tax Relief and Mandate Repeal Act (HR 6048)
Amends the tax code to repeal the individual and employer health insurance mandates, from Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) and more than 100 other cosponsors.

The NObamacare Funds Act (HR 6054)
Prohibits funding to implement any provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or of the health-related provisions of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, from Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.).

Tell Congress: Update the Mining Law of 1872!

Chicago Peak is located in Western Montana’s Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area, and is a holy place for the Salish and Kootenai native tribes.  In other words: It’s a terrible location for a massive proposed copper and silver mine.1

But under the shockingly antiquated General Mining Law of 1872, the National Forest Service says it has no choice but to approve the mine. Even worse, this relic of a law will hand nearly $20 billion dollars worth of publicly owned minerals to Canadian company Revett Minerals, totally for free.2  We get nothing.

This mine is only one example. Overall, Congress’s failure to update our 140-year-old mining law is one of the most egregious, expensive and destructive failures in federal land management.

Tell Congress: It is long past time to update the General Mining Law of 1872!

The General Mining Law of 1872 is literally an artifact of another era.In 1872, Women could not vote in America. There were only 37 States in the Union. And our government sought to settle the vast Western territories by handing out mining rights to fortune-seeking settlers.

Yet today, this relic continues to govern hard rock mining of metals like copper, uranium, silver and gold. The result is a massive giveaway to giant mining companies that rips off taxpayers to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. Under the law:3

  • Mining leases can be purchased at 1872 prices of $2.50 – $5 an acre.
  • Companies can mine publicly owned mineral resources without paying any royalties. We just give it away!
  • Federal land managers must prioritize mining over all other land uses.
  • The law contains NO environmental protections — which has led to the pollution of more than 40% of Western U.S. watershed, and left us holding the bill for an estimated more than $30 billion in mine cleanup and reclamation.

Tell Congress: Update the Mining Law of 1872!

In today’s world of giant, international mining conglomerates using massive pieces of equipment and polluting huge volumes of water to rip up the earth — as opposed to Wild West times of risk-taking prospectors and their pack mules seeking fortune – this law should be a page in history books, not our actual law books!

Congress has twice tried and failed to reform the law. But it’s long past time for an updated mining law that allows land managers to protect unique public lands from mining, implements strong environmental standards for mines, collects funds for mining reclamation, and puts a fair royalty on the extraction of these publicly owned resources.4

It is crazy that our mining law pre-dates the invention of the telephone and the light bulb. Tell Congress to update this massive giveaway, the General Mining Law of 1872.

1. “Big Mine. Bigger Trouble,” Rock Creek Aliance
2. “A Sacred Peak With Rich Ore Deposits,” New York Times, April 9, 2012
3. “General Mining Law of 1872,” Earthworks
4. “1872 Mining Law Reform Requirements,” Earthworks