Today, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a legislative field hearing in Idaho Springs, Colorado on H.R. 3734, the “Mining Schools Enhancement Act,” introduced by Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-NV). This bill, in combination with H.R. 3843 (Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)), the “Locatable Minerals Claim Location and Maintenance Fees Act,” and H.R. 3844 (Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA)), the “Energy and Minerals Reclamation Foundation Establishment Act,” comprise a larger mining development and reclamation bipartisan reform package.
“While all three reforms offer a proactive and positive set of solutions, they are now even more critical, in light of the EPA-caused Animas River spill, which occurred last August some 325 miles from here at the Gold King Mine not far from Silverton,” Committee Chairman Rob Bishop stated. “Mr. Hardy’s common sense bill – H.R. 3734 – encourages and provides support to America’s mining schools that produce and help train the experts needed on the technical side to do this work in the future.”
The education component is particularly important given that the EPA does not employee any mining engineers and that a majority of the United States’ mining industry’s technical leaders will reach retirement age within the next decade.
“Our nation needs more mining engineers,” said Hardy. “To ensure that more mining engineers are produced, our mining schools must be sustained. To sustain our mining schools, they need a strong faculty. To ensure a strong faculty, new professors need to make it through the tenure process. To make it through the tenure process, new professors need to conduct research. To conduct research, professors need funding. The Mining Schools Enhancement Act will attack the shortage of mining engineers in this country head-on by supporting key educational programs, and involving more students in critical research.”
The innovative three-pronged approach to mining reform legislation provides a path to clean up the more than 400,000 abandoned mines across the Western states. Today marks the second hearing on the comprehensive package as the Committee advances these long overdue reforms through the legislative process.
“I’m excited to be chairing what is, to my understanding, a historical first for Congress: the first congressional hearing held underground in a mine. ” stated Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Lamborn. “What better place to gather and discuss the need for future mining engineering experts, a need felt by industry, states and federal workforces, and nonprofits alike.”
“Today’s underground hearing was very exciting and a great opportunity to showcase the Colorado School of Mines,” Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure we can train and educate the next generation of mining scientists.”