The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing yesterday on mining reform, indicating unwillingness to overhaul 136-year-old U.S. mining policy anywhere near as much as would a House of Representatives bill passed this fall. Senators seemed generally open to creating a cleanup fund and placing royalties on new mines, but key lawmakers from Western states balked at taxing existing mines or increasing environmental regulation. “It is important to remember that while the mining law itself has not been updated, there have been numerous new environmental laws that are still applicable to mining,” said ranking Republican Pete Domenici (N.M.). Critics testified that, uh, current laws have in no way kept mines from effing up the environment. Domenici and fellow energy committee bigwig Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) are adamant that Senate mining legislation be written from scratch rather than jumping off from the House version.