EARTHWORKS

Green Scissors 2011: Trimming the budget while protecting the environment

Aaron Mintzes's avatar
By Aaron Mintzes

August 26, 2011

Lately, those of us who are news and political junkies have been preoccupied with the debate in Washington, D.C. over raising the debt ceiling.

After all the hue and cry, legislators agreed to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for the creation of a super committee that is tasked with reviewing mandatory and discretionary spending as well as potential revenue sources with an eye toward solving our long term debt and deficit problems.

To this end, our friends at Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Heartland Institute, Friends of the Earth, and Public Citizen today issued their annual Green Scissors report. Turns out, marrying environmental sustainability and fiscal responsibility is remarkably easy.

I just joined Earthworks a couple weeks ago and I was blown away with all the hand outs, subsidies, tax expenditures, tax breaks, federal loan guarantees, and other mechanisms funded by the public to support polluting industries. Among the worst offenders is the 1872 Mining Law that allows extraction companies to mine our precious metals on public lands for free.

Part of the solution is the Uranium Resources Stewardship Act . This bill would impose a 12.5% royalty on the uranium mining industry-similar to what oil and gas companies already pay- and move the industry away from the 1872 Mining Law and into the more modern Mineral Leasing Act. The money generated from the royalty charged on uranium mining on public lands would go toward the much-needed clean up of uranium mill tailings and abandoned uranium mines on federal lands.

All told the oil, gas and mining industries receive more than $380 billion in wasteful subsidies while polluting our land, air and water and causing serious harm to communities. Wouldn't that money be better spent on creating green jobs and promoting renewable energy?

Tagged with: ursa, super committee, green scissors, budget

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