And from the other side of the aisle … U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), normally thought of as environmentally friendly, is championing legislation to protect a mining company from any liability for environmental damage done in its 125 years of operating in the senator’s home state. The company, Homestake Mining, plans to close its gold mine in South Dakota’s Black Hills this month; the mine will then be converted to an underground physics laboratory. Under the Daschle bill, which has already been approved by Congress and will likely be signed by President Bush in the next few days, the government will spend between $500 million and $1 billion to build and equip the lab and to indemnify the mining company. Daschle and other supporters say the lab will boost the local economy. But critics, including Rep. Sherry Boehlert (R-N.Y.), describe the bill as a sweetheart deal for the mining company and worry that it will set a dangerous precedent by placing limitations on liability and saddling taxpayers with the cost of cleaning up private-sector projects.