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It is time to reform mining rules Print

by Gina C. Janett (Editorial)
Fort Collins Coloradoan
March 22, 2008

An open letter to Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave:

Rep. Musgrave, please step up to the plate to conserve Colorado's natural resources. While we appreciate your opposition to the Weld uranium mine and your support for designating Rocky Mountain National Park as wilderness, there's much more you can do to keep Colorado a great state.

We can all agree on one thing: Coloradans treasure our state's natural resources and want them conserved for future generations. It is apparent we all value clean air, fresh water and the natural landscape.

Colorado is known for its active residents who love to play outdoors whether skiing, camping, climbing, fishing, hunting or rafting. Many of our small businesses depend on the state's high-quality forests, streams, pastures and fertile soils for their livelihoods, be it in tourism, farming, recreation, logging or ranching.

But Colorado's valued natural resources are under threat. Every day, headlines describe contaminated water in Leadville's mining tunnels, fish unsafe to eat in the Poudre River and mountain lakes - due to power plant mercury pollution and groundwater threatened by uranium mining.

America's outdated energy and mining policies threaten Colorado's future. Coal-burning power plants and gas powered vehicles pollute the air, causing warming trends that threaten our ski resorts, the air we breathe and water supplies. Past gold and silver mines are still polluting streams and leaving costly Superfund sites for taxpayer funded clean-up. Oil and gas drilling activities' pollute wells and groundwater. With oil and gas drilling in Colorado at an all-time high and a new mining boom for uranium on the horizon, it's critical that we modernize our approaches to mining and energy production.

Rep. Musgrave, it's past time to reform the 1872 Mining Act, an antiquated law that was signed by President Ulysses S. Grant to encourage the settlement of the West. It's time to modernize federal law and protect Colorado's public lands by passing House Resolution 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act. Unfortunately, you voted against this bipartisan bill, but it passed in the House and awaits Senate action. Let's hope Sens. Ken Salazar and Wayne Allard will support mining reform for the benefit of all Coloradans.

Rep. Musgrave, it's time to support clean, renewable energy technologies that reduce pollution, cost less, and that will enhance our economy. Last month, the House voted to extend tax incentives for the production of renewable energy from solar, wind and biomass to increase investment in clean energy technologies. The vote on House Resolution 5351 was 236 to 182 and, again, you voted against modernizing our energy economy and protecting our environment.

There will soon be other opportunities in Congress to adopt 21st-century energy policies. An amended mining bill may come back from the Senate for your vote. I urge you to take another look. Stand up for Colorado and represent the values of your constituents. Leave behind the old energy and mining policies of the 19th and 20th centuries. Please support modern laws that will protect Colorado's natural resources for your kids and grandkids.

Gina C. Janett of Fort Collins is director of the Colorado Conservation Alliance.

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