Mine safety, energy issues priority: NMA

AS THE industry moves into the second half of 2008, the top advocacy group in the US says many of its funds will go towards ongoing efforts to promote mine safety, industry law reform and the nation's energy policy.

Donna Schmidt

The National Mining Association's spending in 2007 for government lobbies on mine safety, coal technology and other issues was $US4.1 million, $2.4 million of which was doled out in the second half of the year.

“Our lobbying expenditures were devoted in almost equal measure to mine safety legislation, energy policy and climate change legislation, and amendments to the General Mining Law, which governs how hardrock (not coal) minerals on federal lands are accessed," said group spokeswoman Carol Raulston in a recent interview with International Longwall News.

However, armed with a budget in 2008 that has been given a 20% boost by the NMA's board of directors, those top priorities will continue to be met throughout this year as well.

“Almost all of our efforts will be devoted to legislation that is already under consideration," noted Raulston.

First, the focus on mine safety will be centred on the implementation of MINER Act regulations, which she said included "reasonable regulatory interpretation" of the laws outlined within it.

“We oppose passage of the S-MINER Act, believing it will divert resources away from implementation of the MINER Act," she said.

“Further, we believe the effectiveness of the MINER Act should be evaluated before additional legislation is passed."

The NMA’s second main concentration, energy policy and climate change legislation, will include a continued promotion of coal as the nation's most abundant, affordable resource for energy production.

“We are seeking legislation to set up a funding mechanism for research, development and commercial deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology [and] this would require new legislation," she said.

“NMA and the United Mine Workers of America [recently] sent a joint letter to Congress seeking passage of such legislation."

Raulston added that any climate legislation should "synchronise" the CCS technology's commercial deployment with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions regulations to avoid unnecessarily high electricity and energy costs.

Finally, in the mining law reform arena, the NMA is in support of updates to the General Mining Law to allow for a financial return to government bodies when federal lands are in use and a method for obtaining land tenure when mining is active on a property (not reinstatement of patenting, Raulston noted).

It is also working towards allowing funds paid in to the Government to be used for abandoned mine land clean-up.

The NMA includes more than 325 organisations across all types of mining, and represents its members before federal regulators while promoting mining's essential role to the general media.

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