Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hearing on Arizona mining regs

At the close of yesterday's meeting of the Arizona Legislature's Ad Hoc Committee on Mining Regulations, State Mine Inspector Joe Hart said if we just turned loose the mining industry, they would bring us out of the current economic downturn. That message was warmly endorsed by committee co-chair Sen. Sylvia Allen and others. [right, major minerals of Arizona. AZGS map]

But in the presentations by industry representatives earlier in the afternoon were proposing much more modest changes.

Rusty Bowers from the Arizona Rock Products Association (sand and gravel, aggregates, limestone, etc) said their industry can meet environmental standards but asked for flexibility in how to get there. He said some regulations micromanage how the companies have to meet certain standards which raises costs and prevents them from approaches that could be more effective.

Marcus Middleton, from Freeport McMoRan, was there as chair of the Arizona Mining Association's environmental committee. He urged the Legislature to ensure that state regulatory agencies have enough resources to carry out their duties in a timely manner, so that economic development projects are not delayed. He said this doesn't mean just providing direct state appropriations but allowing for alternative resources.

He urged state regulatory agencies resolve conflicting and overlapping rules and as an example mentioned well spacing requirements from ADEQ that needed to be resolved in an iterative process with ADWR. ADWR Director Herb Guenther promised to work with ADEQ to address this.

Middleton also proposed a limiting state agencies imposing any rules more stringent than federal requirements unless they have specific legislature authority to do so.

I gave a short presentation on the mission of the AZGS, especially related to mineral resources. One of the committee's tasks is to look into a central database for land management and resource information. So, we did our first live demo of the emerging capabilities of the Geoscience Information Network (GIN) which integrates data from a variety of data providers. The committee hearing was webcast live and the video is supposed to be archived. When it's posted, I'll share the url.

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