Praise for Congressman Chris Shays

By JIM DIPESO, REP Policy Director

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: The following letter to the editor was published on June 19, 2002 in the Connecticut Post.



Congressman Chris Shays deserves a medal for his stalwart defense of America’s waters from irresponsible mining companies. Twice in recent weeks, he has taken a strong stand by co-sponsoring legislation to stop the mining industry from using rivers and lakes across the nation as free garbage cans.

Shays’ Clean Water Protection Act would ban dumping of mining wastes into streams. In the horrendous practice of “mountaintop removal” coal mining, the tops of mountains are sheared off to get at subsurface coal. The waste rock is dumped into streams, often filling entire valleys. Hundreds of miles of streams in the Appalachians have been obliterated as a result. Incredibly, the Bush administration has proposed a regulatory change that would legalize such mindless destruction, and even allow dumping of construction debris and plastic into streams. The Shays bill would block the administration’s ludicrous proposal.

Shays’ Mineral Exploration and Development Act would require companies digging up “hard-rock” minerals on public lands to pay royalties and to finance their own cleanup costs, which can be enormous. Acidic runoff from tailings dumps have poisoned thousands of miles of streams out West. In the meantime, mining companies are extracting minerals from our land without paying a cent in royalties, and are even privatizing public land at 19th century prices of $2.50 to $5 per acre.

It’s time to enforce responsible behavior by mining companies and make them pay their own way. It’s time to protect our environment and the taxpayers by enacting sensible mining welfare reform. We are fortunate Chris Shays is championing the cause.