Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Use stimulus funds to clean up abandoned mines
The news of an illegal immigrant having to be rescued after falling into a 35-foot deep abandoned mine shaft near Douglas today, is a reminder of the hazard that faces all of us out in rural and remote areas.
While there are substantial federal monies available to clean up abandoned coal mines, it's almost impossible to get funding for hard rock mines, which are what we have in Arizona and many other Western states. [right, credit, Wickenburg.com]
It seems to me that there is a natural win-win situation here, given that filling in and boarding up these old mines requires construction workers, materials, and expertise, and the various stimulus bills being crafted in Congress are aimed at putting funds into infrastruction projects that can be started in 30-90 days. Many of Arizona's mines are known, and the construction efforts while sometimes tricky, are not rocket science.
Laurie Swartzbaugh, assistant to Joe Hart, the Arizona State Mine Inspector, sent me a copy of recent testimony from the Interstate Mining Compact Commission and the National Association of Mine Land Programs to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. They listed 80,000 abandoned openings in Arizona, second only to Nevada's 200,000.
Arizona identified 23 mine sites with 81 openings that could be readily closed in the next 24 months for a cost of $810,000. California, Montana, and Alaska have lists of ready for closure adding to tens of millions of dollars. I imagine the Arizona list could be expanded greatly with a bit more time to research and update the inventory.
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is reported saying that now is the time to take on important issues that have been sitting and waiting for funds or direction.
at 8:21 AM