Our friends at the League of Conservation Voters produce annual scorecards rating Members of Congress on their environmental voting records. The latest edition declared the 112th House of Representatives as the most anti-environmental House in the history of the nation. It all started with HR 1, a budget bill laced with a buffet of pro-pollution appropriations riders. Americans already know about the party of “No”. A Senate that set the record for most filibusters ever preceded this worst House.
Politics makes strange bedfellows. In policy circles, a lawmaker who opposes you on one issue may become your ally on the next. Usually though, this does not happen on the same issue. The issue here is who should pay to clean up toxic pollution from mines. On the one hand, we could have taxpayers pick up the tab. Or we could make polluters pay. I prefer the latter. And for the most part, I’d tend to think that members of Congress concerned about government spending, deficits, and American’s tax burden would too. Currently, there is no independent funding stream dedicated strictly to clean up of abandoned hardrock mine lands (AML). Instead, we have the coal-mining industry subsidizing the hardrock mining industry. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) imposes a per ton fee on coal mining divided among the states for AML clean up. Clearly not the ideal solution, but it’s better than nothing.