Contrary to your recent anti-mining story ("Mining report flays lack of oversight," Aug. 15), anyone familiar with the scores of state regulations governing the hardrock mining industry knows that mining states have compiled a strong record in protecting water resources.
Mine operators today already must comply with more than three dozen federal laws and regulations protecting health and the environment. In addition to meeting the requirements of the state-administered federal Clean Water Act, which regulates surface-water quality, mine operators must also meet strict requirements of state groundwater quality programs that have been enacted in all the Western mining states.In a recent policy statement, a group of Western governors, including Mike Leavitt of Utah, maintained the primary responsibility for water resource management appropriately belong with the states. And all 50 state water- pollution control administrators are on record in opposition to any expansion of federal authority over groundwater.
Anti-mining advocates like the Mineral Policy Center nevertheless would impose a national regulatory scheme that would duplicate existing programs to address a problem that does not exist. Such a move would be costly, unnecessary and unwise.
The mining industry supports changes to the key mining law reform issues, including the adoption of federal reclamation standards developed in cooperation with states on a regional and site-specific basis to further protect the environment and the imposition of a fair royalty. What is not needed, however, is a rewrite of the nation's water-protection laws.