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mining of the minerals that our society demands, and that is the bottom line.

The Mining Law, in my mind, continues to work well for America because it embodies entrepreneurship. Many critics of the law cite it as unique among mining statutes in the world, and therefore a wrong approach. But I note that the April issue of Mining Engineering reports that some Eastern European nations such as Czechoslovakia and Poland are interested in possibly applying Mining Law concepts within their countries. I guess that a private property approach to mining there is seen as a solution to undoing the years of centralized land-use planning.

Mr. Chairman, the last thing the newly freed economies of Europe need is a government agency that can just say no. I suggest that in our Nation's interest to do likewise we do not need to arm our public land managers with the abilities to subjectively deny the opportunity to explore, develop and mine our mineral deposits. What we need is an objective enforcement of existing environmental and land tenure laws.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I will wrap up my opening remarks. I welcome all of today's witnesses and look forward to their testimony on the important issues embodied in this bill. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Opening statement of Mrs. Vucanovich follows:)

Opening Statement

of
Congressman Barbara F. Vacanovich

on
LR 91& Mineral Exploration & Development Act of 1991

Subcommittee on Mining & Natural Resources

Committee on Interior & Insular Affairs

June 18, 1991

Mr. Chairman, because of our lengthy list of witnesses I will be brief in my opening remarks. Today we begin the first of two final days of hearings on the issue of reforming the Mining Law of 1872. We have together listened to over 160 witnesses at our Subcommittee's field hearings. I believe that they provided the Subcommittee with valuable insights. Our Constitution guarantees citizens the right to petition their government, but unfortunately the guarantee does not include a plane ticket and a hotel room. So, field hearings provide an opportunity for those less able to afford the travel to Washington, an opportunity to be heard. And hear them we did, for some twenty-five hours or more, plus a few trips to mincs.

Mr. Chairman, I want to take the time now to thank you for your patience in listening to so many miners from the West and Alaska, most of whom wanted to scrap your bill

, and who told you so. Despite the protest signs, though, you accepted the criticism of H.R. 918 gracefully, be it from the more radical reformers or the advocates of the status quo. Many chairmen may have tried to hold a Washington D.C. hearing only, without going to the hinterlands, knowing the reception you were likely to face. I appreciate your willingness to do so, and Mr. Chairman, I only wish that you could have attended the Helena, Montana, function, as well, to hear the small miners of the northwest with Congressman Marlence and myself.

I, too, held a town meeting in Elko, Nevada, for those constituents of mine that were unable to testify at our Reno hearing. About a dozen residents of northeast Nevada submitted written statements to me giving comments on H.R. 918, and I ask now that they be made a part of the record for this hearing, Mr. Chairman. As you may surmise, these are heartfelt comments from people that will be directly affected by what we in Congress choose to do on this issue.

They are not happy that a law that defines a way of life for them is cavalierly dismissed as "anticipated", "a frontier law that has outlived its usefulness", a "land scam of immense proportions" and other rash statements repeated by the media without resort to checking the validity of the arguments set forth in the GAO report of 1989 that serves as the basis for these rehashed stories. That's pretty poor journalism in my view. Don't bother to check the facts, just repeat the GAO's conclusions and they

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become fact! Its much less troublesome than attempting to ascertain the truth in how the Mining Law works day-to-day in the West to provide a living for honest, hardworking, citizens.

Mr. Chairman, I believe you when you say that you support the continuation of hardrock mining in the West. While we may disagree on how to achieve that end, I do thank you for joining with me to try to defeat the proposal to substitute a $100 per claim annual holding fee for the current assessment work requirements of the Mining Law. Having our miners send their development funds to Washington is no way to encourage exploration for, and mining of, the minerals that our society demands.

And that is the bottom line. The Mining Law, in my mind, continues to work well for America because it embodies entrepreneurship. Many critics of the law cite it as unique among mining statutes in the world, and therefore a wrong approach, but I note that the April issue of Mining Engineering reports that some Eastern European nations such as Czechoslovakia and Poland are interested in possibly applying Mining Law concepts within their countries. I guess that a private property approach to mining there is seen as a solution to undoing the years of centralized land-use planning. Mr. Chairman, the last thing the newly freed economies of Europe need is a government agency that can "Just Say No". I suggest that is in our Nation's interest to do likewise. We do not need to arm our public land managers with the ability to subjectively deny the opportunity to explore, develop, and mine our mineral deposits. What we need is to objective enforcement of existing environmental and land-tenure laws.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I shall wrap up my opening remarks. I welcome all of today's witnesses and look forward to your testimony on the important issues embodied in this bill.

Mr. RAHALL. The Chair thanks the gentlelady, and especially for her very gracious comments.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Jontz.

Mr. JONTZ. Mr. Chairman, I look forward to hearing the witnesses. Thank you for your leadership in providing to our subcommittee such a comprehensive body of testimony for our consideration. And I know we are going to have a busy day. Thank you.

Mr. RAHALL. The Chair recognizes another distinguished member of the subcommittee and an individual who has been very helpful on this issue, the gentleman from

Wyoming, Mr. Thomas. Mr. THOMAS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your holding these hearings. I am sorry I wasn't able to be with you during your excitement in the country. Nevertheless, we do have a lot of witnesses and I welcome them, so I will be very brief.

But, as you know, hardrock mining and the mineral industry are very important to my home State of Wyoming, and certainly I look forward to it. The Mining Law has been one of the important laws in this industry. It has been the cornerstone of mining operations and exploration for 100 years, and provided our Nation with the sound regulations that do not hamper exploration and development of these resources. Some have said that it is an 1872 law. It is out of date. It is not up-but we need to remind ourselves that, I think there have been some 37 statutes that have been changed in the meantime that have either amended or are a part of the operation now. So, to suggest that it is out of date because it was passed in 1872, of course, is not really in keeping with where we are.

Let me say also that it seems to me that much of the concern here has centered around a number of aberrations, a number of things that have happened that have not been common and could basically and are basically being taken care of administratively. The little concern, I think sometimes at least it appears in recent years, certainly in recent months, that in the West we have had all kinds of things come down on us. This year we are talking about grazing fees. All of it having to do with multiple use of lands. Fifty percent of my State is in public ownership, as you know. So what we do in terms of policy with regard to the economy has very direct bearing on where we are: grazing fees; endangered species more specifically, the wolf thing we are involved in; the whole concept of multiple use of these resources; water rights, of course, having to do with reservations and tribes and others; mineral royalties, more recently—substantial changes in those costs, and all these things are linked to our way of life and our living in the West.

So, Mr. Chairman, I look forward to this hearing. I do appreciate what you have done, and I think in a fair way. You have explored this issue and I appreciate that and look forward to working with you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. RAHALL. Thank you, Craig.
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24. Mr. Chairman ul. Thank you. Craig statement of Mr. Craig follows)

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