Murkowski Calls for Mining Reform
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today called for modernization of the 137-year-old law governing mining on federal lands.
“The current mining law is woefully out of date,” Murkowski said. “We need to overhaul the law to ensure that it strikes the right balance between protecting the environment, obtaining a fair return for taxpayers, creating jobs and maintaining a secure supply of American minerals.”
At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing Tuesday on two proposals to reform the Mining Law, Murkowski, the panel’s top Republican, expressed concern that the proposed language could hamper economic development by drastically increasing fees and royalties, placing huge swaths of public land off-limits to mineral production, and instituting a long list of new regulations.
“If we get mining reform wrong, we risk trading our reliance on foreign oil for a reliance on foreign minerals,” Murkowski said.
The United States currently imports 100 percent of the quartz crystal needed for the photovoltaic panels used in solar power generation, 91 percent of the platinum for fuel cells, 100 percent of the indium for LED lighting technologies, and 100 percent of the rare earth minerals for advanced batteries.
Murkowski noted that the margin of error on mining law is very thin given the potential for job creation and the long-term economic effects of reform. The United States already attracts a mere 8 percent of global mining development.
“Minerals are the building blocks of infrastructure, technology, defense and industry,” Murkowski said. “They’re also essential to the new, clean-energy technologies that this very committee has sought to advance.”