2007 Scorecard Vote
On nearly 400 million acres of public land, hardrock mining is still governed by policies set down more than a century ago. Under the 1872 Mining Law, public lands are sold to miners for $5 or less per acre, and mining companies don't need to pay for the gold, silver, copper, uranium, and other hardrock minerals they take. The environmental consequences have been dire. Mining is now our nation's major source of toxic releases and has contaminated more than 40 percent of the headwaters of Western watersheds.
H.R. 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act, made important changes in federal policies: requiring new and existing mining operations to pay royalties for minerals taken from public lands; placing certain areas, like the roadless areas of national forests, off limits to new claim-staking; setting out new environmental performance and reclamation standards; and using royalty monies to clean up previously abandoned mines.
Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM) introduced an amendment that would have prevented regulators from denying permits to mines that would cause irreparable harm to significant resources. On November 1, 2007, the Pearce amendment was rejected by a 173-244 vote (House roll call vote 1030). NO is the pro-environment vote. On the same day, the House voted to pass H.R. 2262 by a 244-166 vote (House roll call vote 1033). YES is the pro-environment vote.