Update [2007-10-28 9:18:56 by Erik Hoffner]: Looks like Jason and I were on the same page when we submitted our nearly identical posts on this the other day: his is below. I’ll pare mine down to just this:

In part, the law’s rewrite would raise taxes and fees to clean up an estimated 500,000 abandoned mines that leak cyanide, lead, mercury, etc., into watersheds. But the big question is whether this reform can survive the inevitable challenge from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid is from the hard rock mining state of Nevada, and is the son of a gold miner, but surely he can see that we need to stop giving away our natural resources, right?

The wrinkle, though, is encapsulated here in a Casper-Tribune article on the topic:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

National Mining Association President and CEO Kraig R. Naasz issued a statement saying the bill is “disappointing to those of us concerned about the nation’s increasing reliance on imported minerals and public policy impediments to a sustainable U.S. mining industry.”

Sustainable financially, that is, for shareholders. What this reform may lead to is a race to exploit minerals in countries where such regulation and costs do not exist, as is happening already with copper. We may just see an acceleration of devastation elsewhere, sadly.