BLM outreach to mining claim holders on abandoned mines

By Lauren Pagel

October 7, 2010

Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began an outreach program to individuals or companies that have mining claims on public lands under the 1872 Mining Law. The goal of the outreach is to help the Bureau mitigate abandoned mine hazards.

Outreach to claimants is a laudable goal, and something the BLM should do more of. Unfortunately, regardless of how much outreach the BLM conducts, it will not change the fact that because of the antiquated 1872 Mining Law, there isn't enough money available to truly deal with our abandoned mine problem.

There are over a half a million abandoned mines in this country that could cost as much as $50 billion to clean up. Many of these abandoned mines pose serious public safety hazards, while others pollute streams and rivers. Yet, most years the BLM, Forest Service and National Park service spend less than $25 million on abandoned mine reclamation. EARTHWORKS helped to get some money in the 2009 stimulus bill for abandoned mine remediation, but nowhere near the $50 billion estimate.

Because the 1872 Mining Law allows mining companies to take valuable minerals like gold, copper and uranium from public lands for free, with no royalty or fee paid to the taxpayer, the abandoned mines that littler our public lands continue to pose threats to people and the environment.

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Tagged with: 1872 mining law, abandoned mines

Toxic sludge flood in Hungary is a wake-up call

By Scott Cardiff

October 6, 2010

Around a million tons of toxic alumina refinery waste -- red sludge -- broke through a dam this week in Hungary and flooded a large area. Several people died in the flood, and hundreds were injured by the flood and the caustic waste. And the impacts have just begun.

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Tagged with: waste, red mud, dam, bauxite, disaster, alumina, aluminum, irresponsible, hungary, flood

Common sense verified: independent panel verifies EPA's contention that mountaintop removal coal mining harms streams

By Alan Septoff

October 1, 2010

In yesterday's Charleston (WV) Gazette:

An independent science advisory team has issued a draft report that supports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's conclusion that mountaintop removal is causing serious damage to Appalachian streams.

In a 75-page report, a 15-member panel of scientists from around the country agreed with EPA's conclusion that valley fills are increasing levels of electrical conductivity downstream from mining operations and threatening stream life.

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Tagged with: epa, science advisory board, coal mining, mountaintop removal, charleston gazette

Texas OGAP to hold meeting to provide feedback on Texas oversight of drilling/fracking.

By Alan Septoff

September 24, 2010

Last year, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality established a new policy for reporting gas drilling odors. It doesn't concern itself with water pollution or anything underground. Just the air.

Eight months later, the Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project wants to check in with TCEQ -- and the people affected -- to show them how effective this new policy is.

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Tagged with: fracking, drilling, texas ogap, tceq, odor

We need to clean up old uranium messes, and make sure we have rules to prevent new ones, before we mine more uranium

By Lauren Pagel

September 24, 2010

Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources conducted a hearing concerning H.R. 4817. The bill would amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977 and give uncertified States and Indian tribes authority to use payments to take care of certain noncoal (i.e. uranium) reclamation projects.

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Tagged with: new mexico, abandoned mines, uranium, smcra, energy and minerals, hr4817

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