EARTHblog » Aaron Mintzes
August 17, 2012
Politics makes strange bedfellows. In policy circles, a lawmaker who opposes you on one issue may become your ally on the next. Usually though, this does not happen on the same issue. The issue here is who should pay to clean up toxic pollution from mines. On the one hand, we could have taxpayers pick up the tab. Or we could make polluters pay. I prefer the latter. And for the most part, I’d tend to think that members of Congress concerned about government spending, deficits, and American’s tax burden would too. Currently, there is no independent funding stream dedicated strictly to clean up of abandoned hardrock mine lands (AML). Instead, we have the coal-mining industry subsidizing the hardrock mining industry. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) imposes a per ton fee on coal mining divided among the states for AML clean up. Clearly not the ideal solution, but it’s better than nothing.
June 27, 2012
In 2005, the newly re-elected Bush/Cheney Administration settled in to a second term eager to drastically reshape our nation’s energy policy. Vice President Cheney held a series of closed-door meetings with energy companies, forging a direction so favorable to drillers that the exemptions from our bedrock environmental laws crafted therein became known as the Halliburton loopholes. One of those exemptions (there are a total of seven) declared that the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) would not apply to hydraulic fracturing. Originally passed by Congress in 1974, the SDWA is the main federal law that ensures the quality of Americans' drinking water, especially underground sources of drinking water.