EARTHblog » Aaron Mintzes
August 31, 2012
We all know the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission already has and will continue to have a dramatic effect on our elections. Even if we don’t follow politics but live in any swing state, we know the effect well: more political ads, more vitriol, more mud and negativity, less disclosure, accountability, and honesty. Citizens United tells us that corporations are people and money is speech.
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.