Congressional Field Hearing Examines abandoned mine lands in California
The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency joined state and county officials, along with industry and public advocacy groups to explore ways to address California's and the Nation's abandoned mine lands challenges.
The hearing, held in Sacramento by the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, was chaired by Rep. Jim Costa, a former California State legislator and now Congressman from the 20th District. He was joined by Rep. Tom McClintock, from the 4th District and majority and minority subcommittee staff.
Leading off the witness list, Acting BLM State Director Jim Abbott's testimony described the huge scope of the problem: 47,000 sites, two-thirds of that total on Federal lands and 15,000 of those on BLM public lands. Abbott said progress is being made on remediation, stressing the strong public-private partnership in California.
The other witnesses included: Regional Forester Randy Moore, U.S. Forest Service, Daniel Meer of the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency, Dr. Charles Alpers, U.S. Geological Survey; Arthur Baggett, Jr. State Water Resources Control Board; Linda Adams, CA Environmental Protection Agency; Bridgett Luther, CA Department of Conservation; Steve Wilensky, Calaveras County Supervisor; Bob Schneider, Tuleome; Julian Isham, Northwest Mining Association; and Elizabeth Martin, The Sierra Fund.
Although there were policy differences about issues such as the Good Samaritan pending legislation, reform of the 1872 mining law, the level of contamination from a health standpoint, there was also a consensus that in California, cooperation is the key to pooling resources to address the problems.
At the subcommittee's request, the BLM is hosting a field tour of sites in the Mother Lode area of the Sierra foothills today with more than 20 guests in addition to the subcommittee's staff. Tour stops include examples of historical hydraulic mining, safety hazards, and environmental cleanup projects. Read more about the tour in next weeks' News.bytes.
- J.Bedrosian, 11/24/09
BLM-California News.bytes, issue 410