TUCSON -- A big crowd was downtown today to say no to mining in the Santa Rita Mountains, and support public-interest reforms to the outdated federal 1872 Mining Law.
Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) chaired the first meeting of his new environmental subcommittee.
Both reps are doing a fine job for S. AZ in congress.
Gabby's smart media man CJ Karamargin sent me her opening statement.
I would like to thank my colleague, Rep. Grijalva, for inviting me to participate in this hearing today.
I know the issue we're discussing is a significant one, and I appreciate the opportunity to be here. Let me state right up front that I have very deep concerns about an 800-acre open-pit mine in one of the most scenic areas of Southern Arizona.
The potential environmental impacts of this mine to the Santa Rita Mountains are profound. Water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution, traffic hazards - the list is truly disturbing.
In my view, the residents who are worried about these impacts have some very legitimate reasons to be concerned.
The Santa Ritas are a national treasure. Anything that might threaten them must be taken seriously. To be sure, this is why the Pima County Supervisors have taken a strong stand they have against this mining proposal.
But this specific mining proposal is only part of the reason behind this hearing. Another is the 1872 Mining Law. I think it is astounding that this law was already 40 years old when Arizona became a state in 1912.
It is telling, in my view, that the 1872 law has no environmental, public health or safety provisions.
Mining, of course, has a long history in Pima County and throughout Arizona. Its contributions to our economy, political development and culture are well-known. But it is precisely because of the inability of 135-year old mining law to respond to the needs of our communities today that congressional oversight and review of the law is needed.
I look forward to hearing testimony from all sides of this issue.
Today's hearing is the start of a new congressional effort to reform the 1872 Mining Law and mining in general on American public lands.
I enjoyed the solid testimony today from Pima County, City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, Lainie Levick, the visiting Secretary of State of Wisconsin, Roger Featherstone, and others.
Let's hope the House passes a good reform bill, and that it may have a chance in a Senate controlled by pro-mining Sen. Reid (D-NV).