1993 Scorecard Vote
The 1872 Mining Law promotes the destruction of the public's land by encouraging unrestricted mining with scarcely any safeguards of the environment. Federal land managers lack the ability to refuse a mining permit, no matter what sensitive habitat or place of beauty might be spoiled. And the law allows private companies to mine publicly owned minerals at virtually no cost.
In November 1993, the House passed a comprehensive reform bill, H.R. 322. This bill gives managers the right to approve, modify, or deny mining permit applications on public lands. It also gives the authority to assess whether specific public lands should be designated as "unsuitable" for mining due to their fragility and uniqueness. H.R. 322's original "unsuitability" provision, proposed by Rep. Nick Joe Rahall (D-WV) was substantially weakened during the bill's consideration in the House Natural Resources Committee. The committee voted to accept a substitute bill offered by Rep. Rick Lehman (D-CA) which removed or weakened some of the unsuitability standards.
Then, during full House floor debate, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) offered an amendment to replace some of the unsuitability protection provisions removed in committee. Specifically, he sought to strengthen the standard for deciding whether mining would damage the land, and to reinstate so-called "Areas of Critical Environmental Concern" and "Research Natural Areas" as reasons to declare land unsuitable for mining. The vote on the DeFazio amendment to strengthen H.R. 322's mining lands review provisions was defeated, 199-232. November 16, 1993. YES is the pro-environmental vote.
During further debate on on the mining law reform bill, Rep. Michael Crapo (R-ID) offered a motion to prevent a final vote on H.R. 322 by recommitting the bill to the House Natural Resources Committee for study of its economic impact. This was a last-ditch effort to delay or derail Mining Law reform in the House. The House rejected the Crapo amendment by 148-270. November 18, 1993. NO is the pro-environmental vote.