11:59 AM EDT

Nick Joe Rahall, D-WV 3rd

Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, over 135 years after President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Mining Law of 1872 into law, I bring before this body legislation to drag it into the 21st century. This legislation at long last provides badly needed fiscal and environmental reforms of mining for valuable minerals in the 11 western States and Alaska.

In bringing this measure before the House, I am pleased to have the strong support of our colleague from California (Mr. Costa), who chairs the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources of the Natural Resources Committee. JIM chairs the subcommittee that I chaired 20 years ago when I first began this effort to reform the Mining Law of 1872. I am honored that he has taken up the mantle as well.

The Mining Law of 1872 is the last of the frontier-era legislation to remain on the books, with the Homestead Act having long been repealed, not to mention laws regarding carrying your six-gun into a saloon or allowing a posse to hang horse thieves. The basic goal of this law, almost free land and free minerals to help settle the West, has long been achieved. While the minerals produced under this law remain in demand, mining under an archaic 19th century regime is not compatible with modern

land use philosophies or social values. This threatens mining, and mining jobs, and is one reason this law must be brought into the 21st century.

Today, as in the 1800s, the Mining Law allows claims to be staked on Federal lands in the West for valuable hardrock minerals such as gold, silver, and copper. No royalty is paid to the true owners of these lands, the American people, from the production of their minerals. Except by dint of an annual appropriations rider, the claims can be sold to multinational mining conglomerates for $2.50 or $5 an acre.

Now, some listening to what I just said may think I am making this up. Free gold and land for $2.50 an acre? That sounds like a fairy tale. My friends, ladies and gentlemen, I am not making it up. This is no fairy tale. This is a pirate story, with the public lands profiteers robbing the American public blind.

Mr. Chairman, billions of dollars' worth of gold, silver, and copper have been produced from American soil without a royalty paid to the true owners of the land, the American people. Those that will recall history will know that the largest bank heists in the world have been the $900 million stolen from the Central Bank of Iraq in 2003; the $72 million stolen from Knightsbridge Security Deposit in England in 1987; and the $65 million stolen from the Banco Central in Brazil in 2005. But, my colleagues,

those figures are chump change, chump change compared to the estimated $300 billion in valuable minerals given away for free from America's public lands under the Mining Law of 1872. Incredible. Simply incredible. But, it gets worse.

Being a 19th-century law, it contains no mining and reclamation standards. The result is a legacy of toxic streams, scarred landscapes, and health and safety threats to our citizens from abandoned mined lands. The mayor of Boise, Idaho, and let me restate that State, Idaho, wrote a letter to me recently to state that the city is powerless to protect the integrity of its source of drinking water, which is threatened by a cyanide heap-leach gold mining facility proposed by a Canadian, and I repeat

that, a Canadian-based company.

This last September, a 13-year-old girl tragically plunged to her death in an Arizona mine shaft. In reference to an area pocketed with abandoned mine sites, an Arizona mine inspector was quoted as saying: ``It's just a death trap out there.''

The Mining Law of 1872 is the Jurassic Park of all Federal laws. It requires an extreme makeover. Environmental safeguards must be supersized. Federal lands must stop being given away for fast-food hamburger prices. The robbery of America's gold and silver must stop.

Mr. Chairman, the bill I am bringing before the House today would make commonsense reforms by imposing a royalty on the production of these hardrock minerals. Bear in mine that coal, oil, and gas produced from Federal lands have long paid these royalties. The legislation would also put a permanent end to what is known as patenting, the sale of mining claims for the price of a snack at Taco Bell.

Further, it would provide for statutory mining and reclamation standards that are performance-based rather than prescriptive. As well, this would establish a special fund to reclaim abandoned hardrock mines, address the health and human safety they propose, and provide for community impact assistance.

This is a historic debate, a debate that is long overdue. Those who support this legislation, the countless locally elected public officials across the West, concerned citizens across the West, sportsmen and -women across the West, taxpayer advocates across America, bring with them the new-century conviction that corporate interests can no longer have an unfettered ability to reap America's mineral wealth with no payment in return. There must be parameters set and rules to which industry must

comply.

I am here to suggest that if we continue under the current regime, that if we do not make corrections, the ability of the mining industry to continue to operate on public domain lands in the future is questionable. The other side will bring up jobs, they will bring up the health of the industry that might be decimated by this legislation. I say we are here to protect mining jobs and to protect the health of the industry and to provide some certainty in the making of financial decisions by the

mining industry.

While the Mining Law of 1872 over the years has helped develop the West and cause needed minerals to be extracted from the Earth, we have long passed the time when this 19th-century law can be depended upon to serve the country's 21st-century mineral needs, and do so in a manner accepted by society. Reform of the Mining Law of 1872, I tell my colleagues, is a matter of the public interest, the interest of the American taxpayer, the interest of all Americans who are true owners of these public

lands. The name of every American is on the deed of these lands. I urge approval of this legislation.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

12:06 PM EDT

Steven Pearce, R-NM 2nd

Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I thank the chairman for his work on this bill and rise in opposition against that bill. There are no Third World countries. There are simply overregulated countries; there are overregulated economies. The debate that Members of this House are about to engage in will be passionate because the positions that we are fighting over are polarizing.

Mr. Chairman, it did not have to be this way. We all agree on the same principles, hardrock mining on Federal land should pay a royalty, should continue to operate in the most environmentally responsible manner in the world, and protect the health and financial security of the miners who bring the world's minerals to the surface.

As I mentioned earlier, if given a fair hearing, we would have agreed on these goals. Instead, right now at this moment the stock market is plunging in this country because of the rising energy prices. Oil hit $94. Our stock market is reacting. The price of our dollar has fallen. We are doing things in this body that will punish domestic jobs and domestic industries. They will not touch the mining industry outside of this country. Outside countries will have better access to our markets because

of the things that are occurring in this legislation.

So, yes, we are passionate about our position, and, no, we do not listen to the arguments, no matter how well-conceived from the other side, because they are simply arguments; they are not truths. We are here to fight against a bill brought forth by the chairman which will send some of the highest paying jobs in the West overseas by making mining in the U.S. uneconomic. [Page: H12399]

Members from western States, like mine, will fight fiercely to keep these jobs because the West cannot survive off tourism alone.

I have a chart here that shows the relative wages in the mining industry. We have had hearings about the evolving West and what they hope the West looks like, but we in the West want these good, high-paying union jobs that exist now in the mines. The jobs in tourism do not pay nearly as much. That is what we are fighting for today.

By making mining in the U.S. uneconomic, the chairman's bill will give competitive advantage to countries like China and India. We Members who like the U.S. being number one and who don't like the current value of the dollar are fighting against that. I favor American exceptionalism.

By making mining in the U.S. uneconomic, the chairman's bill will compromise the readiness of our military because the military will have to further import the strategic minerals and materials it needs from hostile nations. It would be a sick twist of fate if the U.S. had to start importing uranium from Iran.

In order to defend the bill against job loss, the economic security and military security, you are going to hear some rhetoric that simply amounts to whoppers, the whoppers about the 1872 mining law on the House floor today, and I think it is important to set the record straight.

First, you will hear the law was passed in 1872, and at 135 years old it needs modernizing. I wonder where the chairman is when it comes time to modernize Yellowstone National Park, which was also created in that same year. But I will tell you that the chairman would be the first to argue against any changes in the acts that created our national parks, and Yellowstone in particular. Maybe the leaders back then believed that we needed to protect areas, but we also needed to use some of our lands

to supply the materials for a growing Nation, because they understood we needed those materials. Maybe our politicians of today do not care if America's economy grows or not.

Secondly, you will hear that the law allows public lands to be purchased for $2.50 an acre, the ``price of a snack,'' I think were the words that were used. And yet I do not see any of our people in this Chamber or across the Nation standing up to say let me have some of that land for $2.50 an acre. Because the truth is that you have to mine that land to get it for $2.50 an acre. Maybe it is just not that easy to prove up on the mineral assets, on the mineral claims, as the chairman caused us

to believe here.

Third, you will hear that energy companies pay 12 percent or more in royalties for coal, oil and gas on Federal lands; mineral mining companies don't.

Now, that seems fair, doesn't it? But you have to understand that many of our energy companies also tried to buy mining claims and tried to do mining, and they gave up on it because they simply could not do it. They did not have the economics right. They didn't understand how to do it. And no more than you and I can buy a claim for $2.50 and make a mining claim work, even our biggest oil companies could not do it. And these are the kinds of misinformation points that we are asked to believe today

on the floor of the House of Representatives.

I tell you, please, my friends, do not believe it, because we are about to export these jobs, these good high-paying jobs. We are going to export jobs.

Fourth, you are going to hear that the Mining Law needs modern environmental laws. The mining industry today is well regulated. The mining industry itself, the BLM, the regulatory agencies used to have mines that looked like this top chart; and this mine under current law, under current environmental regulations, has now looked like this. We had testimony to this in our committee, but the majority just decided that they didn't need to listen to what is going on already. They wanted to create

new overlapping legislation.

Currently, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and all other Federal regulations apply to the mining industry. But you would believe, if you heard our friends on the other side of the aisle, that we are simply out here digging holes in the ground and we are polluting the streams with no oversight. It is just not true.

So, my friends, as we engage in this argument, listen to the passion from the West, because you will know that our jobs are at stake, our livelihoods are at stake. There are people who want to make the West simply the vacation ground for the rest of the country. And I am saying from the West, we just want jobs, good jobs. We want not only jobs, but careers for our families. We want careers for our kids. And the legislation today here is designed to take away the careers from the West.

Look at it very carefully, because today the stock market is plunging amid fears of high energy prices and unavailable access, no access to drilling lands to increase the supply; and our dollar is falling because the world believes that we are going to give away our economy.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

12:15 PM EDT

Nick Joe Rahall, D-WV 3rd

Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, I include for the Record at this point a letter to me from Chairman JOHN DINGELL of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and a letter in response from myself to Chairman Dingell of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE,

Washington, DC, October 29, 2007.

Hon. NICK J. RAHALL II,

Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources, Washington, DC.

DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: I write with regard to H.R. 2262, the ``Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007''. I know it is your wish for the bill to be considered on the House floor as soon as possible.

Some of the provisions in the bill establish requirements for the Environmental Protection Agency and concern the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980. Those provisions are within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. I am not, however, raising the issue with the Speaker because it is my understanding that you have agreed that the referral and consideration of the bill do not in any way serve as a jurisdictional precedent as to our

two committees.

Further, as to any conference on the bill, the Committee on Energy and Commerce reserves the right to seek the appointment of conferees for consideration of any portions of the bill that are within the Committee's jurisdiction. It is my understanding that you have agreed to support a request by the Committee with respect to serving as conferees on the bill (or similar legislation).

I request that you send to me a letter confirming our agreements and that our exchange of letters be inserted in the Congressional Record as part of the consideration of the bill.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss this matter further.

Sincerely,

JOHN D. DINGELL,

Chairman. [Page: H12400]

--

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES,

Washington, DC, October 30, 2007.

Hon. JOHN DINGELL,

Chairman, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Washington, DC.

DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for your recent letter regarding the jurisdictional interest of the Committee on Energy and Commerce over H.R. 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act. As you know, some sections of H.R. 2262 as reported by the Committee on Natural Resources relate to the application of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), and others establish requirements for the Environmental Protection Agency, both of which fall

under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

It is my understanding that you will not seek a sequential referral of H.R. 2262 based on the inclusion of these provisions in the bill. Of course, this waiver is not intended to prejudice any future jurisdictional claims over these sections or similar language. Furthermore, I agree to support your request for appointment of conferees from the Committee on Energy and Commerce if a conference is held on this matter.

Thank you for the cooperative spirit in which you have worked regarding this matter and others between our respective committees. At your request, I will include this exchange of letters in the Congressional Record as part of consideration of the bill.

With warm regards, I am

Sincerely,

NICK RAHALL,

Chairman.

[Time: 12:15]

12:16 PM EDT

Don Young, R-AK

Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to what could have been responsible bipartisan legislation. I have a great deal of respect for the chairman of the committee; he is a good friend of mine. But this is a bad bill.

As the gentleman on our side, the ranking member, Mr. Pearce, has done an outstanding job, he mentioned in his statement to listen to the chairman of the committee and those who are promoting this bill that the mining industry has no regulations, no laws, they just run rampant, which is pure nonsense. We are not really addressing an 1872 mining law here. It is not about the royalty. They offered the chairman if he would strike title III, we might be able to work a bill, and he turned

it down.

This is about driving our industry, our mining industry overseas and away from our shores. This bill will do it. Just as I have heard in the past about legislation from that side of the aisle when you were in power that we are not trying to stop the logging industry in Alaska, we are just trying to make sure that we get our fair share. We went from 15,000 jobs down to less than 300 jobs. That was from the previous chairman.

I also heard all the time about how when they were in power, how we were going to be energy independent. And now we are paying $93 a barrel for oil, $93 a barrel, because you have not acted and we didn't do also. But we didn't try to stop the mining industry in this country as this bill will do.

This is not just about mining; this is about national security. Where do you think the metals come from to build our airplanes? Right now we are probably importing most of it. And I guarantee you, we will import all of it under this bill. We know, Mr. Rahall, this doesn't affect West Virginia. It doesn't affect his coal mines or any of the east coast States. But it does affect public lands in the West where our minerals are derived from.

I say wake up, Mr. and Mrs. America and my colleagues. Wake up. China has gone into Chile now, and they control the copper that we must have for our hybrid cars.

Yes, all of you, as I watch my good friend there working his BlackBerry, where do you think the metals and minerals came from for this? As we vote electronically today, the metals and minerals make that electronic system work.

We are not talking about the royalty, here; although, I do think it is unconstitutional as the bill came out of committee because you rewrote the contract under the bill. It will be taken to court and that part of the bill will be struck. It will be struck. I tried to say that. But no, again this is not a bipartisan bill. This is a bill that was written primarily by the leadership of this House that in reality takes away the ability for the western States to produce the minerals that are needed.

That is what this bill does.

It does affect my State probably more than any other bill that has come out other than the Alaskan National Lands Act that put 147 million acres of land off limits. What remaining BLM land we have where we are trying to develop a mining industry will be precluded, taking away the benefit of the mining industry in the State of Alaska as it does in the western States. But it affects my State more, probably.

Yes, we probably could have written a bill that would have recovered the dollars necessary to straighten out hardrock mining. But no, we have a bill that stops the ability of this Nation to be self-sufficient in minerals. Later on you will see a display about just how dependent we have become.

I am hoping that this bill will be killed in the Senate, as most bills will be killed from the House side because no one wants to work with the Republicans at all. That is why you have an 11 percent rating of favorability. No ability to work across the aisle and say what will work and what are we trying to achieve. What are we trying to achieve?

If you were looking for money from royalties, we could have talked about that; prospective, not retroactive, because that will go to court. But that didn't happen, and you left title III in, which requires so much impossibility of achieving a mining claim that they will go abroad. They will go abroad, and that's not right for this country.

I have said all along, and I am going to be around here a lot longer than most people expect, and most of you probably don't like that, but I will be here just to say ``I told you so'' like I have done with the logging, what you did in my State and the logging industry and the west coast and on public lands. There is no timber industry. We are now importing our timber with no regulations. We have private timber in the eastern States, but not in the western States.

I listen to you. We just voted on a bill yesterday to help out people who are going to be displaced because of losing jobs overseas, and you voted for that. And that is what this bill does. It will drive the industry out of the United States of America and we will be dependent upon China and Russia and all of the other countries for the metals and minerals we must have in our Nation to make sure we are economically strong, and then we cannot become strong.

So as much as I love you, Mr. Chairman, this is a bad piece of legislation. I have been told don't worry about it, we will take care of it later on down the line. Well, I have been down that road before, too.

So I am asking my colleagues on my side of the aisle and anybody that is thinking on that side of the aisle to vote against this legislation if you believe in this Nation. If you believe in this Nation being strong, if you believe in jobs in our country and not abroad, then you will vote ``no'' for this bill.

If you don't believe that, then vote ``yes'' for the bill. And then go home and say, ``I repealed the 1872 mining law. Look what I did for you, Mr. Backpacker.'' But think of our country and our Nation. Think of our future. Vote ``no'' on this bill.

12:23 PM EDT

Jim Costa, D-CA 20th

Mr. COSTA. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for all your hard work on this issue, not just this year, but for the last two decades. I also want to thank the ranking Republican member, the gentleman from Alaska (Mr. Young), and the ranking member of our subcommittee, the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. Pearce), for all of their hard work over the last 10 months.

Mr. Chairman, this is an important piece of legislation and it provides a balanced approach to public lands. It recognizes that hardrock minerals to our lives are important, but they are also important as a public trust that belong to all Americans.

During this process over the last 10 months, we held numerous hearings at which over 33 witnesses testified. For example, in Pima County, Arizona, earlier this year, we had local government [Page: H12401]

and citizens talk about the important values, as well as the impacts to water, wildlife and recreational opportunities. We also listened to State and local government and tribes and gave them the option to close sensitive lands which are critical to their communities,

or to have restraint. Lands that provide, in fact, drinking water supplies.

In Elko, Nevada, the subcommittee received additional testimony from people to understand how important the mining is to those communities in those towns. Let's make it clear. We do not want to put those mining operations out of business. They provide a viable industry to this Nation which has already been substantiated. We gained a better understanding on the ways that industry strives, and they are doing a marvelous job for the most part in being responsible and following regulations which

they must comply with.

Many States have already taken initiatives. The committee listened. We have taken amendments which make mineral exploration provisions to benefit an important part of the industry to keep the momentum and the motivation there. We also took changes in title III to set forth strong national standards for mining but make sure that we are not duplicating existing State law and regulations. The subcommittee hearings in Washington also focused on the issue of royalties, which has been much talked about.

Let me address some of those criticisms at this time about it decimating the mining industry. Some of us are old enough to remember Sergeant Friday from Dragnet. Remember what he used to say: ``Just the facts, ma'am.'' Well, the facts are this: These are multinational companies that mine in areas throughout the world, and they pay royalties in those countries. They pay royalties in those countries, and they are existing and doing fine, as they are doing fine in this country.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the total income subject to the proposed royalty, which I would submit is a work in progress, would average roughly $1 billion a year. These are public lands. We require the same for oil and gas production. It is a relatively small number when you take into account that the total U.S. mining industry produces $23 billion each year.

The Congressional Budget Office also estimates that the cost of this legislation, should it become law, would approximately be, with this royalty, $200 million over a period of 5 years. That is $200 million over a period of 5 years, a $23 billion a year industry in this country. We think that is a fair shake for these lands that are owned by all Americans, and it makes a serious opportunity to resolve something that has been contentious for two decades.

The industry will tell you that they want certainty. They don't want the vagaries from administration to administration. They know this is a work in process. They know the issue of royalties are subject to negotiation between us and the Senate as this measure moves on.

So let's be clear about it. This measure, in short, I think reflects a thoughtful and informed process. Did everybody get everything they wanted? No. Is the process still moving along? Yes. We will continue to work with our colleagues of the loyal opposition as we try to endeavor to create a bill that reflects the best interests of America.

Let me quickly respond to the issue of the precious metals. This chart explains it very clearly. The U.S. Geologic Survey ranks the import reliance for nonfuel mineral materials. According to the USGS, there are 30 nonfuel minerals on which we are 80 to 100 percent reliant on imports. Simply put, we almost completely import these minerals, as has been stated, rather than produce them domestically.

Now, that sounds worrisome, and the Republicans have noted that. But it is important that we realize that 19 of these 30 minerals, two-thirds of them, are not ``locatable'' and therefore are not subject to the 1872 mining law. So the reform of this law will have no effect on the production or the imports of those minerals. They will not be subject to the royalty we propose or the environmental standards.

Of the other 11, all but one are simply not available in terms of commercially marketable quantities in the United States. We depend on imports of these minerals. Ones like graphite and rare earths do not exist in deposits where it is economical to produce them or they don't exist on public lands, so they are not subject to the legislation.

So if it ain't here, you can't mine it.

The only mineral among those 30 that are 100 percent import reliant into this country and impacts both the 1872 mining law and that are ``locatable'' minerals, the only one that is actually located in deposits large enough to be economically produced is fluorspar. Fluorspar. We are dependent upon fluorspar. Now let me tell you what we use fluorspar for: Toothpaste. We get fluorspar from China, Mexico, South Africa and Mongolia. We don't need to worry that the cleanliness of our teeth is in jeopardy

because of this mining law.

[Time: 12:30]

The last time I checked, tooth decay, while distasteful, is not a national security issue. I ask that we support this measure.

12:30 PM EDT

Steven Pearce, R-NM 2nd

Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, my good friend from California said we want to get the facts right; and if I heard him correctly, he said this bill is a work in progress. Now, we've had 135 years, according to him, to work on this bill, and we're going to rush it while it is still in progress. I really don't understand why we're going to take such a serious step as risking all the jobs in mines with work in progress. I think those were the words used and the facts used.

The truth is we have a severe difference of opinion. I will quote from the chairman of the committee: No reason, no reason whatsoever why good public land law should be linked to the gross national product. That was in our markup hearing, and yet I would submit that energy production, timber production, water production, mineral production, they all affect the gross domestic product, and they are public land law.

So I really just believe that we have a complete disconnect in the committee between the majority and minority.

Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Davis).

12:31 PM EDT

Geoff Davis, R-KY 4th

Mr. DAVIS of Kentucky. Mr. Chairman, I have great respect and admiration for my neighbor, the chairman from West Virginia, for work that we've done in our river industries and supporting local industries; but I have to rise in objection to this bill. I think in some ways we might entitle it the Exporting America's Jobs Overseas Act.

I grew up around the American mining industry at the working-class end and got to see it from that side, one of the great transformations that took place during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s; and I think there are three core issues.

The law needs to be reformed, I agree, to adapt it to a 21st-century economy within which we live. However, the issue of competitiveness, the issue of American jobs and the issue of fundamental social justice all militate against this bill.

First of all, for the Democratic Caucus, from my friends on the other side who are committed to protecting jobs, I think it's amazing that we want to raise taxes on a core industry that's important to our supply chain, for our technology industry, to drive jobs overseas. It's going to increase material costs, increase our dependency on foreign hardrock minerals which has doubled over the last 10 years according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Secondly, there is a significant impact on jobs. Mining jobs and the mining support and supply chain jobs and industries that support that cannot be replaced by hospitality jobs. That is a flawed logic, in my mind; and it's very critical that we maintain the robustness of this industry as a strategic asset and a strategic resource.

For our future in energy, our future in manufacturing, we have to use the resources that we have in an environmentally friendly way to not only protect our jobs but to grow their jobs.

Finally, I think the one thing I found in trade agreements through the years here in the House, there's always the discussion about a social justice component in establishing trade agreements with countries that may have [Page: H12402]

sweatshops, may abuse men, women and especially children. In this case, I would point out that areas where we get strategic materials now that will increase their industry are abusive of children. Specifically, you can see a picture

here of a child who's a Peruvian miner, children who are Colombian miners, and a Ugandan miner, all of whom are young children, all of whom are having their futures closed down because of this.

I oppose this bill. I ask that we yield back to the principles expounded by the gentleman from New Mexico and the gentleman from Alaska.

12:34 PM EDT

Nick Joe Rahall, D-WV 3rd

Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 1 1/2 minutes.

I say to my colleague from across the river from me in Kentucky that, as he knows, jobs in both our hardrock mining industry and our coal industry are on the decline already. Those jobs have been declining; and as the gentleman so well knows, as well as my colleagues on the minority side, these jobs are declining today because of the technologies that are coming in place.

Look at our coal industry. We're mining more coal as we're producing more hardrock minerals, but with less man and woman power because of the technologies that are replacing man and woman power. It's that simple.

So while the jobs may be on the decline, the production is on the upswing.

I would say as well to my colleagues who raise the specter of here the Democrats go raising taxes again, note this week in the Wall Street Journal, this week the administration, the administration, not the Congress, announced that it's raising the royalty rates for oil and gas from the Gulf of Mexico to 18.75 percent from 16.67 percent for offshore leases to be offered next year. Even with this increase, the gulf will remain one of the lowest tax oil basins in the world.

So let's put this proposed 8 percent royalty on hardrock mining in perspective, please. It's less than half. Let's also keep in mind that hardrock mining is the only industry that pays no royalty on public lands, and all other countries and all States, for that matter, charge a royalty. Companies impose royalties and private agreements on hardrock mines. Let's keep in perspective what we're doing here; and, remember, it was the administration this week that raised royalties on Gulf of Mexico

leases.

Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Farr).

12:36 PM EDT

Sam Farr, D-CA 17th

Mr. FARR. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I rise in support of H.R. 2262 so we can, after 135 years, update the 1872 Mining Law. Since Ulysses S. Grant's administration in 1872, the Mining Law has governed hardrock mining on our public lands, public lands. Those are lands which you, the taxpayers, own.

For nearly 100 years, those lands have been debated in Congress about changing policies that give away public resources and leave each new generation with a larger legacy of unreclaimed lands and degraded streams.

Debate has continued. It's continued while northern California's Iron Mountain spewed nearly a quarter of the copper and zinc discharged by industries to the Nation's surface waters; during the decades of efforts to control acidic, metal-laden discharges from old sulfur mines southeast of Lake Tahoe; as historic lands of the Indian Pass in the area of Southern California in the desert area faced destruction from the proposed Glamis mine; and as California cities spend millions of dollars to treat

hazardous mine discharges and fight giant mining corporations in court.

Like the pollution problems it creates, the 1872 Mining Law persists, but that will now change with passage of this bill, and we owe that hard work to Chairman Rahall and to my colleague JIM COSTA from California.

While this congressional debate has continued after all these years, we've allowed mining companies to take billions of dollars' worth of gold, silver, and other minerals from our public lands for free. However, we will no longer treat that as we have not treated oil, coal, natural gas. So they will all now have to pay.

While countless hearings have been held, nearly 3.5 million acres of public lands have been deeded to mining claim holders for as little as $2.50 an acre. We've had to buy back some of this land to protect the unique ecological, recreational and cultural values, paying prices much higher than those set in the Mining Law.

And during our long deliberation, the price tag for mining cleanup has risen astronomically. Since the House last acted on reform legislation, more than 20 mines and mills have been added to the infamous Superfund National Priority List, and the EPA Inspector General has warned that nearly $24 billion in cleanup costs from mine sites now exists, some of which will require treatment in perpetuity.

However, this is about to change. For today, the Hardrock Mining Reclamation Act of 2007 will do what it should have done years ago. I urge the passage of this important legislation.

12:39 PM EDT

Steven Pearce, R-NM 2nd

Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman again, the gentleman from California said let's talk about the facts. He said we do not have rare Earth. We do have rare Earth minerals; we don't have rare Earth mines. Those were shut down by the EPA due to lawsuits. U.S. companies developed the uses for rare Earths, and now we import them.

Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from Idaho (Mr. Sali) who has done great work on this bill.

12:39 PM EDT

Bill Sali, R-ID 1st

Mr. SALI. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to the bill before us.

Plain and simple, this bill is bad for America because it is bad policy. My concern centers around the long-lasting impacts that this bill will have on the First District of Idaho and on America's future.

The bill imposes a royalty that will threaten the existence of domestic mineral production. Please note that mining is already one of the most regulated industries in the United States. Everyone believes that we need safe, productive, and environmentally responsible mineral development and that there needs to be a logical and efficient way to deal with abandoned mines. We all agree on those goals. But this bill takes an environmental cause, like abandoned mines, and uses it as a cover for a tax

hike that will accomplish nothing less than outsourcing our domestic mining industry. That is bad policy.

Hardrock mining is dangerous. It takes a lot of grit to engage in it. Today, hardworking professionals do it here in the United States. This bill, however, will send American production overseas, where there are limited or no environmental standards and where child labor is used.

As the gentleman from Kentucky before me mentioned, H.R. 2262 makes America more dependent on child miners from around the world for our minerals and metal needs. The International Labor Organization estimates there are over 1 million children that are working in mines and quarries around the world. This bill will not only ship our mining industry jobs overseas; it will ensure that American mineral needs are satisfied by child labor. That is just plain wrong; it is bad policy.

My colleagues across the aisle have made a commitment to the American people to combat global warming. This bill will ensure that they cannot meet that commitment. How are they going to combat global warming if they do not have the very minerals that they need to do it? Alternative energy is dependent on minerals that we mine here in the U.S. For instance, copper is used for wind, solar power, and fuel cells, just to name a few items. Currently, domestic production cannot meet domestic demand.

This is kind of like having the Democrats promise us sand castles but banning domestic sand. They're cutting off the domestic supply of minerals that they need to deliver on their commitment to fight global warming. Once again, H.R. 2262 is bad policy.

Mining industry jobs are important in the First District in Idaho. H.R. 2262 will outsource these good-paying jobs that America and Idaho needs. H.R. 2262 will take these jobs away from hardworking American professionals and force them on child laborers. Once again, H.R. 2262 is bad policy.

My final point is this: our national defense depends on minerals mined in America. This bill will result in an importation of the very minerals we need to keep America safe from every unfriendly country from which we are protecting ourselves. Yes, that is right, we'll be asking our enemies to supply [Page: H12403]

us with the minerals used for the very weapons we will be using to defend ourselves from them. Once again, H.R. 2262 is bad policy.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no.''

12:43 PM EDT

Bill Sali, R-ID 1st

Mr. SALI. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to the bill before us.

Plain and simple, this bill is bad for America because it is bad policy. My concern centers around the long-lasting impacts that this bill will have on the First District of Idaho and on America's future.

The bill imposes a royalty that will threaten the existence of domestic mineral production. Please note that mining is already one of the most regulated industries in the United States. Everyone believes that we need safe, productive, and environmentally responsible mineral development and that there needs to be a logical and efficient way to deal with abandoned mines. We all agree on those goals. But this bill takes an environmental cause, like abandoned mines, and uses it as a cover for a tax

hike that will accomplish nothing less than outsourcing our domestic mining industry. That is bad policy.

Hardrock mining is dangerous. It takes a lot of grit to engage in it. Today, hardworking professionals do it here in the United States. This bill, however, will send American production overseas, where there are limited or no environmental standards and where child labor is used.

As the gentleman from Kentucky before me mentioned, H.R. 2262 makes America more dependent on child miners from around the world for our minerals and metal needs. The International Labor Organization estimates there are over 1 million children that are working in mines and quarries around the world. This bill will not only ship our mining industry jobs overseas; it will ensure that American mineral needs are satisfied by child labor. That is just plain wrong; it is bad policy.

My colleagues across the aisle have made a commitment to the American people to combat global warming. This bill will ensure that they cannot meet that commitment. How are they going to combat global warming if they do not have the very minerals that they need to do it? Alternative energy is dependent on minerals that we mine here in the U.S. For instance, copper is used for wind, solar power, and fuel cells, just to name a few items. Currently, domestic production cannot meet domestic demand.

This is kind of like having the Democrats promise us sand castles but banning domestic sand. They're cutting off the domestic supply of minerals that they need to deliver on their commitment to fight global warming. Once again, H.R. 2262 is bad policy.

Mining industry jobs are important in the First District in Idaho. H.R. 2262 will outsource these good-paying jobs that America and Idaho needs. H.R. 2262 will take these jobs away from hardworking American professionals and force them on child laborers. Once again, H.R. 2262 is bad policy.

My final point is this: our national defense depends on minerals mined in America. This bill will result in an importation of the very minerals we need to keep America safe from every unfriendly country from which we are protecting ourselves. Yes, that is right, we'll be asking our enemies to supply [Page: H12403]

us with the minerals used for the very weapons we will be using to defend ourselves from them. Once again, H.R. 2262 is bad policy.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no.''

12:43 PM EDT

Raul Grijalva, D-AZ 7th

Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 2262.

It is an understatement to say that the West has changed dramatically since 1872, but this law that we are reforming today has not kept pace. Those of us from the West need this legislation to pass to protect the health of our communities, our scarce water supplies and our public lands, which are under continuing threat from an outdated mining law.

In my home State of Arizona, hardrock mining has left behind a legacy of contaminated lands and rivers, abandoned mines leaching poisonous metals into groundwater and other hazards to the public, with hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars to reclaim and cleanup the mess left behind.

Only a few months ago, a young girl was killed when she and her sister drove their vehicle into a mine shaft that had been left exposed after the site was abandoned. The mine shaft was hidden by brush, had no signs or barriers to warn anyone about the danger. The younger sister was trapped overnight with her sister's body before rescuers found them the next morning.

This is just one heartbreaking example of the impacts of a law left over from another era, an era when the West was not populated and when our value system was far different from what it is now.

[Time: 12:45]

The law simply must be updated to today's modern-day values and environmental standards. The issue of employment has been raised over and over again, exporting our jobs and importing our vital metals. I agree, mining jobs are good jobs, but I would suggest they are not the only jobs in the West. We need to have a diversified workforce, and that workforce needs what the population needs, diversified opportunities.

Chairman Rahall's bill puts standards in place, requiring cleanup and reclamation of mining sites. This bill makes certain that lands are off limits to mining, as they should be, but it also ends the free-for-all that this law has created over the years, where companies have used a patenting process to purchase inholdings within national forests and other public lands for a few dollars per acre, only to have the Federal Government later buy them out for millions of dollars when they

threaten to develop the land.

The Federal Government has spent billions of dollars over the years rebuying patented mining lands, and taxpayers' are served much better for their money. They deserve a fairness and an equitable return for their tax dollars.

I strongly support the balanced approach that the chairman has taken with this bill. I am also pleased that the committee approved amendments I offered to allow Native American tribes to petition the Secretary to withdraw from mining lands of cultural, historic or religious importance to them. Tribes have been just as impacted as other communities by the impacts of mining and should be able to weigh in on these important matters.

There is an urgency here that cannot be understated. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will vote for this bill.

12:47 PM EDT

Steven Pearce, R-NM 2nd

Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, I would recognize the comments by the gentleman from West Virginia earlier about the administration, and I appreciate his praise.

Although I don't always agree with the administration, I would say that the same administration he was praising has issued a veto threat because there is a constitutional abridgement that's possible in this bill, a takings violation, from the royalty structure. That would be a violation of the fifth amendment of the Constitution.

I believe that this work in progress should be sent back to the committee.

Mr. Chairman, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Nevada (Mr. Heller) who has done great work on the bill.

12:47 PM EDT

Dean Heller, R-NV 2nd

Mr. HELLER of Nevada. I want to thank the ranking member for his hard work the last 10 months.

I also want to thank the chairman of the committee, Mr. Rahall, for his efforts on the bill. He was very patient, very respectful. I appreciate his time and energy. We may disagree, but I certainly do appreciate him listening to my concerns and oppositions to this particular bill, so thank you so much.

Also, I thank the subcommittee chairman for a field hearing in Elko, Nevada. I certainly do appreciate that also, giving them a chance to be heard. I know that was appreciated.

Mr. Chairman, mining is the second largest industry in the State of Nevada, which employs approximately 32,000 Nevadans, supporting, obviously, countless numbers of families. These high-paying jobs and their related services are the backbone of the rural community in our State and other rural economies.

I would take, for example, a couple, Larry and Vickie Childs of Spring Creek, Nevada. Larry retired from the mining industry approximately 25 years ago and subsequently went to work for a company in Elko, Nevada, providing miners the tools and equipment that they need. Vickie works at a health clinic for miners and their families provided by the two largest mining companies in the area.

Vickie's clinic employs two pharmacists, four doctors, physician's assistants, nurses, lab technicians, maintenance and clerical people. Larry and Vickie raised four children in Elko, Nevada, one of whom currently today works in the mining industry.

When this bill closes down the local mining operations, the equipment suppliers and the health care clinics will have layoffs, and, obviously, close their doors. The Childs family will begin to lose their homes. The mining industry will join other domestic industry crushed by foreign competition and overregulation.

Despite opposition to this bill in Elko, one of the most affected communities by this bill, the new excessive taxes and burdensome regulations of this bill will kill this industry, and with that industry will go the towns and families that depend upon it.

Clearly, this was not the result of the field hearing that the community had hoped for. All of these measures, many of the supporters will say, are in the name of fairness.

The question is, fairness to whom? Fairness to Nevada? Fairness to New Mexico? Arizona? I know that China thinks it's fair. I would guess that South Africa thinks that this is a fair bill. I would probably even guess that Australia thinks it is a fair bill.

But do you think it's a fair bill to the Childs family in Spring Creek and the many thousands like them? I don't think so.

But just like this bill ignores the futures of the families in Nevada, H.R. 2262 also fails to embrace the realities of the future of our Nation. India and China, with their State-funded purchases of global mineral commodities, should make us consider the long-term ramifications of the health of the domestic mining industry. Also, the technological advances we all want in our future, such as alternative energy, rely heavily on minerals and metals. A hybrid car, for example, requires twice as

much copper as a traditional SUV today.

Our national defense will rely on foreign sources of minerals to build our military equipment. Frankly, I don't want to rely on China when we are in a war-time situation.

I urge my colleagues to support rural communities, urge them to support our domestic mining industry for the sake of our families, our economy, and our national security by voting against H.R. 2262.

12:51 PM EDT

Nick Joe Rahall, D-WV 3rd

Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 1/2 minutes to our distinguished subcommittee Chair on Insular Affairs, the gentlelady from the Virgin Islands (Mrs. Christensen).

12:52 PM EDT

Donna M. Christensen, D-VI

Mrs. CHRISTENSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of H.R. 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007.

In doing so, I want to congratulate its lead sponsor, the chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, NICK RAHALL. For 20 years now, NICK has led [Page: H12404]

the effort to reform mining laws which have been unchanged since 1872.

It is high time that the 19th century mining law be updated to reflect our 21st century needs and goals. The current law was enacted before the invention of the telephone and was designed to promote mineral development in the age of the pick-and-shovel prospector.

Unlike virtually any other use of public lands, the 1872 mining law allows mining on public lands for hardrock minerals such as gold and copper without any compensation or royalty. It is time that this law be changed to reflect modern mining technologies and newer social values that question whether mineral extraction is always the best or highest use of the land.

As a long-term member of the Natural Resources Committee, I want to once again commend Chairman Rahall for his commitment to mining reform, and he and Mr. Costa for producing a balanced bill which benefits American taxpayers who own the land, the environment and the mining industry.

I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 2262.

12:53 PM EDT

Donna M. Christensen, D-VI

Mrs. CHRISTENSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of H.R. 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007.

In doing so, I want to congratulate its lead sponsor, the chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, NICK RAHALL. For 20 years now, NICK has led [Page: H12404]

the effort to reform mining laws which have been unchanged since 1872.

It is high time that the 19th century mining law be updated to reflect our 21st century needs and goals. The current law was enacted before the invention of the telephone and was designed to promote mineral development in the age of the pick-and-shovel prospector.

Unlike virtually any other use of public lands, the 1872 mining law allows mining on public lands for hardrock minerals such as gold and copper without any compensation or royalty. It is time that this law be changed to reflect modern mining technologies and newer social values that question whether mineral extraction is always the best or highest use of the land.

As a long-term member of the Natural Resources Committee, I want to once again commend Chairman Rahall for his commitment to mining reform, and he and Mr. Costa for producing a balanced bill which benefits American taxpayers who own the land, the environment and the mining industry.

I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 2262.

12:53 PM EDT

Steven Pearce, R-NM 2nd

Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, in order to, again, stick with facts that I think one of my colleagues mentioned we should, I would note that when we just heard the comment that no fees or dollars were taken from the mining industry, actually, $55 million was paid in claim maintenance fees.

But if we are to have this discussion about what effect this royalty is going to have, I think we should look at other circumstances. Again, these facts were presented in committee, in the committee hearings, but, somehow they did not get integrated into the bill, the knowledge, and again, it's the reason that we are passionate here on the floor about our points of view.

We had testimony from British Columbia that instituted a 2.5 percent royalty. Now we are looking at an 8 percent, almost three times as much.

Now, if, as our opponents claim, there is no effect, that we can expect nothing, then you would think nothing happened in British Columbia. Yet, after they instituted, in 1 year, 1 year, revenues from the mines didn't increase because of this royalty; it decreased from 28 to 15, almost a 50 percent decrease.

Exploration, likewise, fell dramatically from 38 to 15, far more than a 50 percent drop. That was in 1 year. The tax was repealed the next year because they found out exactly what we are claiming, that jobs were lost, 6,000 jobs were lost in 1 year. In 1972, the number of claims fell by 85 percent.

So when our opponents say there is not going to be any effect here, it's only right, we are asking them to pay the same amount that you pay for a snack at the grocery store. British Columbia did one-third of the tax that we are proposing. British Columbia found that they had to undo the tax because it was so destructive to the industry.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

12:56 PM EDT

Rush Holt, D-NJ 12th

Mr. HOLT. I thank the chairman and commend my colleague from West Virginia for bringing this legislation to the floor.

Mr. Chairman, we are doing a good thing here. The Mining Act of 1872 is as archaic and as deserving of updating as the name suggests. It was written at a time of manifest destiny, the belief of our predecessors, who held that we should expand from coast to coast and that mining was recognized as one of the best uses of public lands when the country seemed so vast that no one could imagine that human actions would affect the world.

Many things have changed over 135 years. Our Nation is settled. We have come to realize the worth of our natural environment. We have come to comprehend the effects of human actions on the resources that we will pass down to future generations.

This legislation is governing hardrock mining, an industry that's remained exempt from environmental regulations despite the fact that the U.S. EPA's toxic release inventory has determined that hardrock mining is a primary source of toxic pollution in the United States.

I am pleased that in committee we have included language, important language, I would say, to restrict permits for activities that would harm national parks and national monuments. There are thousands of claims and could be thousands more in the close environment of national parks and national monuments, some of our most treasured lands. This legislation will provide vital protection for those lands.

We all know well the costs to American taxpayers of refusing to look after the environment. This language about national parks, I think, will also save the taxpayer money, because we will have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up damage to water supplies and so forth.

I commend the chairman for bringing such a good bill forward and urge its passage.

12:58 PM EDT

Steven Pearce, R-NM 2nd

Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, again, just sticking with the facts, we had one of my colleagues talk about fluorspar, that's what's used to make toothpaste, as if there were no strategic minerals; yet when I look at the list of imported minerals, I see that we import 72 percent of titanium, which is used in jet aircraft, fighter jet aircraft, 72 percent.

I think when we are discussing these facts, we should be talking about the critical facts, as I am sure that the gentleman was correct that we do import fluorspar, and it probably is used on toothpaste, but we probably should be talking about the domestic security, about the security of our Nation, about the willingness of our industry and the capability of our industry to provide the instruments to defend this country.

We are at a time when terrorists are trying to overcome us, al Qaeda, radical jihad. The terrorists are trying every way they can, and we are going to put the source of critical minerals that are necessary for our Nation's offense outside the Nation's borders. It simply doesn't make sense. It actually does feel like a work in progress. It feels like we should have done more.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

[Time: 13:00]

12:59 PM EDT

Nick Joe Rahall, D-WV 3rd

Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, I would ask the gentleman from New Mexico if he has any additional speakers, because I am prepared to close, as I have the right to close.

12:59 PM EDT

Steven Pearce, R-NM 2nd

Mr. PEARCE. I have no additional speakers. I will close if the gentleman is ready to close.

Mr. Speaker, when I look on the walls of this Chamber, I see the quote by Daniel Webster up above the Speaker's chair, and it says: ``Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.''

Worthy to be remembered. I think our Founding Fathers had it right. They visualized a nation of tremendous promise, where the wealth of the Nation and the protection of the Nation would come together in the production of its resources and in the taking care of its land.

I don't find it unusual at all that the same generation protected Yellowstone and yet gave us the capability to create these mines, which take billions of dollars to promote and to produce. I don't find that unusual at all.

But what I do find unusual is that our friends on the other side of the aisle are not listening to their own testimony coming in their own hearings. We heard testimony from both Democrat and Republican witnesses alike saying 8 percent royalties are unprecedented. They are damaging, destructive, they will hurt. Those are the things that we heard in the committee.

I would suggest that we send this work in progress back to the committee and finish our work before we try to change 135-year-old policy.

Mr. Chairman, I include a letter for the Record from Governor Palin of Alaska, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Mining Association, and others, all in opposition to the legislation proposed here.

DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES,

Anchorage, AK, September 28, 2007.

Hon. NICK RAHALL,

Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources,

Washington, DC.

DEAR CHAIRMAN RAHALL: The State of Alaska has completed a review of H.R. 2262, [Page: H12405]

the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007. I attach the resulting position paper for your consideration.

While we acknowledge the need to revise some of the same federal laws that H.R. 2262 modifies, we believe the legislation would unjustifiably harm the domestic mining industry, and the Alaska mining industry in particular.

Our state produced almost $3 billion of minerals last year, four percent of the nation's total. We can continue and even expand this contribution indefinitely, but not without predictable access, on reasonable fiscal terms, to the federal domain in Alaska.

Your legislation, H.R. 2262, would create several obstacles to such access and terms. Specifically:

Prohibiting mining exploration and development on lands identified in the 2001 Forest Service ``roadless rule'' and in other ``special areas'' would place millions of acres off limits. These prohibitions are far too broad, particularly in Alaska where the federal government owns so much land, yet already offers so little of it to mineral exploration.

A flat royalty on gross revenues will cause unnecessary mine shutdowns and job losses during periods of low prices. The government should adopt a flexible royalty that adjusts for high and low returns.

The proposed new permitting system would unnecessarily duplicate existing laws while also creating great uncertainty and thus great risk for mineral exploration and development. We believe it could end exploration and mining on federal lands.

Thank you for considering these views and the attached position paper as Congress works to reform the nation's mining laws.

Sincerely,

Tom Irwin,

Commissioner.

--

NATIONAL MINING ASSOCIATION,

Washington, DC, October 29, 2007.

Hon. NEIL ABERCROMBIE,

House of Representatives,

Washington, DC.

DEAR CONGRESSMAN ABERCROMBIE: The National Mining Association (NMA) supports updating the Mining Law in a manner that produces a fair and predictable public policy capable of sustaining a healthy domestic hard rock mining industry and providing a fair return to the taxpayer for the use of federal lands. House members will soon be asked to vote on the ``Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007'' (H.R. 2262). NMA opposes H.R. 2262 because it jeopardizes current and future sources of domestic

minerals that are critical to our nation's economic well-being and security.

NMA believes that the Mining Law can be responsibly updated in way that does not sacrifice American jobs or endanger the nation's security. Our domestic mineral and mining industry supports 169,500 direct and indirect jobs, produces metals valued at more than $16 billion and pays direct personal and payroll taxes totaling $830 million.

NMA finds the following features of H.R. 2262 particularly objectionable.

Excessive Royalty (Tax): The bill would impose the world's highest royalty on mineral production--a new tax on America's minerals that are critical to our economic vitality and national security. The tax would take the form of an 8 percent gross royalty, which would cause a significant reduction in mineral and mining investments. NMA supports a fair return to the public in the form of a net income production payment for minerals produced from new mining claims on federal lands.

Retroactive Levy on Existing Mines: The bill would retroactively levy a 4 percent gross royalty on existing mines where business plans and investments were implemented without this significant cost in mind. Apart from the doubtful legality of such a levy, it virtually guarantees the closure of some mines and the export of high-paying mining-related jobs.

Confiscation of Investments: Several provisions of H.R. 2262 would empower political appointees to stop new mining projects even when such projects have met all applicable environmental and legal requirements. No business can attract the necessary capital or operate with such regulatory uncertainty and, as you would expect, those investments and projects will move overseas.

Our country is becoming increasingly dependent on foreign sources of minerals critical to virtually every sector of our economy. Our national minerals policy should support, not destroy, the investments, jobs and infrastructure necessary to supply our domestic mineral needs. We urge you to oppose H.R. 2262 so a more balanced measure can be developed.

Sincerely yours,

Kraig R. Naasz,

President & CEO.

--

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF

MANUFACTURERS,

October 30, 2007.

DEAR REPRESENTATIVES: On behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the nation's largest industrial trade association representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states, I urge vou to oppose H.R. 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007.

The U.S. mining industry currently provides about 50 percent of the metals American manufacturers need to operate, including iron ore, copper, gold, phosphate, zinc, silver and molybdenum. The U.S. has become increasingly dependent upon foreign sources of minerals for products that are strategically important to both our national and economic security.

Rather than encouraging environmentally safe mineral development, H.R. 2262 would impose new taxes on the mining industry, including an eight percent royalty on new mining and a retroactive four percent royalty on existing mining operations. The bill would also establish new prohibitions on future mining on certain public lands and set highly prescriptive environmental standards that sometimes conflict with existing state and federal regulations.

Not only would the bill seriously impact the U.S. mining industry, it would increase the cost of raw materials for U.S. manufacturers, make our products less competitive in global markets and adversely affect thousands of high-paying manufacturing jobs. Moreover, we remain concerned that this sets an unwise precedent in targeting specific industries with new and burdensome tax increases.

The NAM's Key Vote Advisory Committee has indicated that votes on H.R. 2262 will be considered for designation as Key Manufacturing Votes in the 110th Congress.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jay Timmons,

Senior Vice President for Policy

and Government Relations.

--

CHEVRON MINING INC.,

Englewood, CO, October 30, 2007.

DEAR CONGRESSMEN: as an operator of two domestic metal mines with over 500 employees, I would like to urge you to vote ``NO'' on the ``Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007'' (H.R. 2262). As longstanding members of the mining community in the United States, we are concerned that H.R. 2262 as it currently stands will negatively affect domestic supply of the metals and minerals needed to ensure our future economic prosperity. The new taxes imposed, and more importantly, the retroactive

taxes proposed, will have a chilling effect on our industry. The uncertainty of mining rights will make domestic investment in new mines difficult, undoubtedly increasing our dependence on foreign minerals and eliminating countless jobs in the US.

Today, American hard rock miners are the highest paid in the world earning excellent salaries and receiving unmatched benefits. Congress will drive these jobs overseas if it approves H.R. 2262, which impose the highest minerals tax in the world!

We are dedicated to reforming Mining Law to ensure a fair return to taxpayers and allow businesses to stay open, preserve high-wage American jobs and prevent further increases in our dependence on foreign minerals.

On behalf of our 500 employees, I urge you to vote ``NO'' on the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007.

Very truly yours,

MARK A. SMITH,

President and CEO.

--

AMERICAN COPPER POLICY COUNCIL,

Washington, DC, October 30, 2007.

Hon. NEIL ABERCROMBIE,

House of Representatives,

Washington, DC.

DEAR CONGRESSMAN ABERCROMBIE: I am writing on behalf of the members of the American Copper Policy Council (ACPC) to indicate our opposition to H.R. 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007. Reform of the mining law is long over-due, but this legislation in its present form would impose new costs and regulatory burdens that would make the U.S. mining industry uncompetitive in the world marketplace. In addition to stifling new mining investment, H.R. 2262 would increase our

domestic manufacturing sectors dependence on imported raw materials, particularly from manufacturing economies such as China. In the case of copper, this could discourage the use of a valuable material that positively contributes to green construction and improved energy efficiency.

ACPC members are involved in all facets of copper mining, production, fabrication and distribution and as such play a critical role in nearly all domestic manufacturing, which is vital to the national economy and defense. Mining law amendments must recognize the need to strike a balance between providing a fair return to the public for minerals extracted on federal lands and ensuring that our U.S. mining industry can continue to compete and provide our industrial base with a reliable supply of

domestic minerals.

H.R. 2262 would impose a royalty that is higher than any other mining country in the world. A royalty is imposed on new mines and also retroactively on existing mines on federal lands. The bill fails to provide assurances that significant investments on public lands will not be placed at risk by arbitrary and capricious restrictions by regulators, and it imposes redundant and conflicting environmental standards on mining contrary to a finding by the National Research Council that current laws

protect the environment.

We support reform but let's make sure it is good reform. At a time when our manufacturing base is struggling to compete in a world marketplace that is not always level, we need to consider the ramifications of legislation on our industrial base. [Page: H12406]

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.

Sincerely,

LINDA D. FINDLAY,

Chair, American Copper Policy Council.

The American Copper Policy Council's members include the Copper Development Association, the Copper and Brass Fabricators Council, the Copper and Brass Servicenter Association, the International Copper Association, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Rio Tinto, and Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc.

I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.

1:01 PM EDT

Nick Joe Rahall, D-WV 3rd

Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, on January 28, 1872, Representative Sergeant brought to the House floor from the Committee on Mines and Mining H.R. 1016, the bill that was to be enacted as the Mining Law of 1872. He noted that debate had taken place whether it was worthwhile for the government to sell the mineral lands of the United States, some thought, on some idea of a royalty belonging to the government.

Instead, the Members debating that measure decided to allow for the patenting of mining claims for $2.50 or $5 an acre, depending on whether it was allowed to place their claim because, in the words of Representative Sergeant, ``We are inducing miners to purchase their claims so that large amounts of money are thereby brought into the Treasury of the United States.''

Well, now, perhaps back then $2.50 an acre represented a large amount of money. But I submit it does not today. And the royalty debated back when this law was passed is what, ironically, we are debating today.

Now, the gentleman from New Mexico has said that in order to pay that $2.50 an acre you have to mine the land. I would say that that is an inaccurate description of current law. You do not necessarily have to mine the land. You have to show that there's a valuable mineral that exists therein, which is not a very hard proposition to show these days.

With that noted, let me state that I've engaged in the effort to reform the Mining Law of 1872 these past many years, not just for the apparent reasons, valuable minerals mined for free, the threats to health and human safety from abandoned mine lands, but also because I am pro-mining, I come from a coal mining State, because I no longer believe that we can expect a viable hardrock mining industry to exist on public domain lands in the future if we do not make corrections to the law today.

I do so because there are provisions of the existing law which impede efficient and serious mineral exploration and development. And I do so because of the unsettled political climate governing this activity. With reform, if not coming in a comprehensive fashion, certainly it will continue to come on a piecemeal basis.

As my colleagues come to the floor to vote on this issue, I hope they will ask their staffs just how many letters from how many mining groups have they received in opposition to the pending bill. I hope they'll bring those letters to the floor with them, because I submit there will not be many. And I submit the reason may be, using my intuition, could the responsible segments of the hardrock mining industry, which is the majority, could the responsible segment of that hardrock mining industry

want to end the uncertainty that exists over this industry? Could it be that they want a finality to the arguments surrounding their industry? Could it be that they want a basis upon which to make business and future investment decisions?

And hardly today are they screaming pauper. Look at this week's Wall Street Journal headline: ``Gold Rush of 2007. Mining Mergers.''

The price is pretty well up there these days. I think these companies are doing quite well, and they would like to have some finality on this issue. I believe that, with enough courage, as we've seen from elected officials, hunters, sportsmen, fishermen from across the West, we can continue to address the problems facing mining and dovetail our need for minerals with the necessity of protecting our environment.

For at stake here in this debate over the Mining Law of 1872 is the health, welfare, and environmental integrity of our people and on our Federal lands. At stake is the public interest of all Americans. And at stake is the ability of the hardrock mining industry to continue to operate on public domain lands in the future to produce those minerals that are necessary to maintain our standard of living.

I urge the adoption of this legislation.