Thursday, April 3, 2008

House Ag Committee Kills Mining Regulation Bill

A House committee killed Wednesday a bill that would have expanded the regulatory authority and size of the state's Mined Land Reclamation Board.

HB 1165 aimed to expand the state's ability to assure that all kinds of mining operations are conducted in a manner compatible with environmental concerns. A primary goal of the bill was to strengthen reclamation standards applicable to mine sites and assure that permittees have the resources needed to finance restoration of the mine site.

It also would have given local governments an effective veto over permits for a mine, including the ability to require conditions for approval.

The measure also would have added the director of the Department of Public Health and Environment and a local government representative to the board.

HB 1165 died by a one-vote margin. Democrats Mary Hodge of Brighton and Wes McKinley of Walsh joined all of the panel's Republicans in opposition.

The bill was sponsored by Fort Collins Democrats Randy Fischer and John Kefalas.

Colorado is in the midst of a mining boom. According to a recent report in the Los Angeles Times, Colorado and Utah have had the fastest growth in mining claims in the nation since 2003. The Environmental Working Group says that active claims in the Centennial state have more than quadrupled since then.

A 1992 accident at the Summitville mine in the Rio Grande National Forest killed all aquatic life in a 17-mile stretch of the Alamosa River. Costs to remedy the environmental damage exceeded $150 million. The mining company paid about one-fifth of that expense.