Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva expressed his deep disappointment at the Obama administration’s decision to fight in court on behalf of a Bush-era regulation that permits unlimited dumping of hard rock mining waste on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management property. The March 30 government filing in Earthworks et al. v. Department of the Interior et al., currently before the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia, indicates that although the White House had an opportunity to either reverse the rule or study its effectiveness, it has chosen to defend it in court.
“Corporate or governmental calls to dispense with environmental safeguards for the sake of job protection are often specious backdoor attempts to circumvent the law,” Grijalva said. “Playing the economy against the environment is a game that needs to end under this administration.”
The lawsuit challenges a pair of Bush-era decisions, made in 2003 and 2008, that collectively allow private mining firms to dump their waste on public land without compensating the government for any environmental damage. Grijalva said the rule “makes no sense from a taxpayer standpoint, an economic standpoint or an ecological standpoint. The only people to benefit are the country’s largest mining companies.”
“Like the president’s new energy policy, this decision puts short-term profits above longer-term considerations,” Grijalva said. “Federal land isn’t a taxpayer-funded dumping ground, and it’s time the administration said so. Allowing mining companies to profit by using the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management as waste heaps is a decision that will be long remembered by the American people, and it should be reversed without delay.”
Grijalva urged the administration to settle the lawsuit and re-evaluate the contested rules. “There is no reason to continue defending a misguided and outdated policy,” he said. “With one stroke of the pen, the White House could end this tomorrow, protect the environment and make sure mining companies pay their fair share. To do anything less is a misuse of taxpayers’ money.”