US congress makes funding available for historic mine clean up
The Northwest Mining Association (NWMA) has applauded the US congress’ decision to pass the H.R.1 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This new act will, according to NWMA, create thousands of good-paying jobs in the west with the help of funding for the remediation of abandoned mine lands. The bill provides $125 million to the Bureau of Land Management for the ‘maintenance, rehabilitation and restoration of facilities, properties, trails and lands and for the remediation of abandoned mines.’ The U.S. Forest Service will receive $650 million for capital improvement and maintenance projects, which include efforts to remediate abandoned mine sites. The clean up of historic mine sites within National Parks is also eligible for $589 million in National Park Service construction funding.NWMA Executive Director Laura Skaer stated, “Most of the abandoned mine sites in need of remediation were developed prior to this nation even thinking about environmental laws or regulations. Mining took place in this country for one hundred and thirty years before the first environmental laws were enacted. I’m pleased that congress recognises that America benefited from these historic mines. It is therefore appropriate to use some taxpayer resources to clean up these abandoned mines.”In contrast to the unregulated era of mining of the past, today America has stringent environmental laws and regulations. NMWA: “Modern mines are safe, protect water quality and fish and wildlife habitat, and reclamation plans are in place and funded prior to the commencement of mining operations. Last year, for example, federal and state agencies in Nevada announced that they jointly hold $1.031 billion in reclamation bonds to guarantee reclamation of Nevada mines. The environmental protections and bonding requirements for modern mines work together to ensure that today’s mines will not become tomorrow’s abandoned mines.”The Northwest Mining Association is a 114 year-old, 1,965 member non-profit, non-partisan trade association based in Spokane, Washington. NWMA supports and advances the mineral resource and related industries, represents and informs its members on technical, legislative and regulatory issues, provides for the dissemination of educational materials relating to mining, and fosters and promotes economic opportunity and environmentally responsible mining.