Jane Danowitz, director of the Pew Environment Group's U.S. public lands program, issued the following statement regarding a March 30 filing from the Obama administration supporting Bush administration rules that provide the mining industry wide latitude for the disposal of mine waste on public lands.
With record government deficits, it is unfortunate that Washington still gives the mining industry a blank check to use our public lands for mine waste disposal. If the Obama administration feels that its hands are tied, we hope it will move quickly to work with Congress to modernize the 1872 Mining Law and stop putting America's resources to waste.
Background: A lawsuit brought by conservation groups last October in the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia challenges 2003 and 2008 “millsite” rules issued by the Bush administration that allow mining companies free use of unlimited amounts of federal land for toxic waste disposal, milling operations and other activities. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the hardrock mining industry is the biggest source of toxic releases in the nation, and taxpayers have already funded nearly $3 billion in federal mine cleanup over the past decade.