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Mining Reform (the time is now)

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This family lives in an area threatened by rapidly expanding mining.

Mining reform matters. It matters a lot. Mining reform is vital to the health and well being of every single living thing in the West. 

The law on the books, that needs serious reform, is from 1872. 

“Hard rock mining conglomerates – many of them foreign-owned with billionaire investors – are looting our public lands, and our gold, silver and copper, without paying the American people a dime for the privilege. And meanwhile, their abandoned mines are polluting our environment with 50 million gallons of toxic wastewater a day and leaving American taxpayers with a cleanup bill to the tune of $50 billion,” said Senator Tom Udall (D-NM).

AS an example, Nevada currently allows new mines to open with full disclosure that they will pollute the water indefinitely, requiring treatment of water that can go on for decades — “in perpetuity” in some cases. (You can read about one active case where WHE has joined a legal action to stop a mine from doing just that HERE)

It is not just in Nevada that this is/has been happening. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 40 percent of the watersheds in the West have been polluted by mining.

As a nation as we face a massive health crisis, that is creating a massive impact to the national budget, reform of the mining industry should be of national interest. 

The General Mining Act of 1872 allows miners to obtain the rights to mine billions of dollars worth of gold, silver, copper and other minerals found in “hard rock” from federal lands without paying federal royalties.

The action item appears here, and at the bottom of the article. Please do it today. 

We ask that you pick up a phone. Find your Senator HERE. 

“Please cosponsor and work to pass Senate bill, S.1386 – Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2019, now.

It is past time that this industry give back to the American public, pay it’s fair share and pay to clean up the mess they leave.

Our environment, and communities, should not be punished as mines, often foreign owned, continue to reap enormous profits.”

For more talking points, continue reading the article.

THANK YOU! 

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Why it should matter to wild horse advocacy:

Unlike other free-roaming animals that live on our western landscapes, wild horses are confined to less than 13% of all of our public lands.

Hard rock mining has been expanding rapidly in wild horse territory. Precious acres are being impacted, water tables dropping, water quality at risk. Mine traffic is often responsible for roundups as wild horses are hit on roads and deemed a “danger.” 

The only mitigation to the damage to wild horse habitat is an assertion that traffic will “go slow.” BLM has no set speed limit to define “slow.” Traffic moves fast in wild places and wild horses get hit. Then wild horses are considered a safety hazard to the traffic and a roundup makes the top of BLMs list. BLM keeps no official statistics.

Migratory routes are cut off inside HMAs, large areas fenced off, access to water inhibited. BLM does not require mines to provide wells for wildlife and assure water quality and availability. Then wild horses get removed. BLM still does not define critical habitat for wild horses, as we lose that critical habitat rapidly to mining. 

In October 2019 Wild Horse Education joined over 70 organizations in support of  H.R 2579, Hardrock Leasing and Reclamation Act of 2019.

You can read the letter HERE :   MININGLAWLETTER

  • End the outdated claim and patent system that gives miners unfettered access to nearly all public land in the United States.
  • Establish a 12.5% royalty on new mining operations–the same amount as oil and gas– and an 8% royalty on existing operations, except for miners with less than $50,000 in mining income.
  • Require meaningful tribal consultation (similar to Rep. Grijalva’s RESPECT Act (H.R. 2689)).
  • Eliminate the exalted status that mining currently enjoys on public lands, leveling the playing field with all other uses of public lands–such as grazing, hunting, and energy development–allowing it to be managed through existing land-use planning processes.
  • Make certain special lands off-limits to hardrock mining, such as wilderness study areas, monuments, and wild and scenic rivers.
  • Require mining operators to report data on the amount and value of minerals being extracted from public lands.
  • Establish strong reclamation standards and bonding requirements.
  • Create a fund to reclaim and restore abandoned mines and areas impacted by mining activities.

On October 23 the House passed two bills: ” Natural Resources Committee voted to advance Chair Raúl M. Grijalva’s (D-Ariz.) bill to update our nation’s antiquated Mining Law of 1872 (H.R. 2579, Hardrock Leasing and Reclamation Act of 2019) and two bills aimed at protecting miner pensions and health benefits (H.R. 934, Health Benefits for Miners Act of 2019 and H.R. 935, Miners Pension Protection Act). “

The Senate version, S.1386 – Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2019, sits in committee.

Mines

USGS map of mining claims in the West

Big lobby groups, like the National Mining Association, claim that reform would be overly burdensome to the industry. 

In essence, the Mining Reform bill would create a 12.5% royalty on production from new hard rock mining operations, the same amount as the federal government collects from oil & gas and coal production on federal lands. It also creates an 8% royalty on existing operations, except for miners with less than $50,000 in mining income.

Did you know the federal government collects more than $6 billion in oil, gas and coal revenues, and disburses almost half of that money to the states where the mineral is produced? 

Why is it a problem to do the same with hardrock mining?

Be aware, that he history of mining reform has a litany of obstructionists that sit in Congress and the Senate. Former NV Senator Harry Reid was one such ally of an industry that contributed to his elections and to his personal investment portfolio.  Today, many western Senators remain vague in the commitment to addressing any reform of the archaic mining laws.

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These wild ones lost their home because they were considered a danger to mining trucks and buses carrying workers that would not slow down as they drove through wild horse territory.

Perspective (NV):

In the first three months of this year Newmont reported: $822 million.

Barrick reports in it’s first quarter earnings  that profit was up 55 percent.

Stock prices are booming during Covid-19 with dividends and buy-backs. 

The Governor has announced massive budget cuts die to Covid-19 that would amount to a $258 million cut from health services, about $170 million from education programs,  $104 million from the main state account that funds schools, and $125 million from higher education. Plus, about $130 million from smaller budget lines that include  Department of Employment and Training and Rehabilitation for the DMV.

At the federal level? 

We are hearing rumblings that small programs are going to take the brunt of the budget fallout.

For wild horses we are hearing chatter that this does not include slashing a roundup budget, but the budget for holding facilities. That statement translates to anther push to send captives to slaughter.

A few million saved by refusing to pay for feed and care of wild horses removed to give free rein to the industrial giants of the hardrock mining industry and a failure to rein in the big money of mining. That seems to be the current direction and we will update you as we have more info.

What YOU can do TODAY. 

We ask that you pick up a phone. Find your Senator HERE. 

“Please cosponsor and work to pass Senate bill, S.1386 – Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2019, now.

It is past time that this industry give back to the American public, pay it’s fair share and pay to clean up the mess they leave.

Our environment, and communities, should not be punished as mines, often foreign owned, continue to reap enormous profits”

THANK YOU! 

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Help us stay in the fight.

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Categories: Lead, Wild Horse Education