MAC: Mines and Communities

US Updates: December 2005

Published by MAC on 2005-12-15

US Updates: December 2005

30th December 2005

The US minerals industry seems to have failed in its attempt to usurp public lands. Native Americans, joined by environmentalists and others, are pressing the EPA to enforce mandatory limits on mercury emissions from coal fired power plants, while they turn increasingly to wind power as an alternative source of energy.

GOP Withdraws Proposal to Sell Off Public Lands

E-magazine: Reporting by Roddy Scheer

20th December 2005

Opposition from at least 11 Western Senators has caused House majority leaders to drop a proposal that would have allowed the federal government to sell off millions of acres of public land to mining companies eager to expand their operations. The contentious provision was slated to be part of a federal belt-tightening bill now working is way through Congressional committee hearings. Several Democratic Senators had threatened to filibuster the bill when it percolated up to them if it contained the mining land sale proposal.

Even a last ditch effort to water down the provision by eliminating acreage that no longer contained any mineral value was not enough to appease the Senate Democrats opposed to it. House Resources Committee Chair Dick Pombo, who sponsored the contentious provision along with Nevada Republican Jim Gibbons, hinted that the GOP would still be seeking ways to "modernize mining law" during 2006.

Environmentalists have been bracing for a full frontal assault on key environmental laws by the Republican majorities in Congress.

This recent setback for House Republicans, though, coupled with their withdrawal of an otherwise successful bid to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling this past fall, may signal that the GOP's bark is worse than its bite when it comes to green concerns. Or maybe they are listening to their non-corporate constituents, as a majority of Americans still favour stronger environmental protection statutes.

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