Gotta Keep on Top of the Bills!

Yeesh! There’s a flurry of activity surrounding environmental issues in Congress and it’s all I can do to keep up! Here’s what’s going on:

TOMORROW, on Halloween, the House is set to vote on HR 2262, which updates the incredibly outdated (and super destructive) Mining Act of 1872. That’s right, this puppy was last updated over 130 years ago!

WHAT: We want our Congresspeople to vote YES on HR 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007, which updates the act and makes environmental provisions as well as making sure Native Americans have a say in what’s done on their lands. Also, it forces profit-making companies to pay for the right to mine on public lands.

It would help clean up western waters contaminated by tens of thousands of abandoned mines, ensure that new mines do not become perpetual water polluters, and give federal land managers and local elected officials more say in balancing mining with other important public land values, such as for drinking water, wildlife habitat, and places to hunt, fish, hike, and camp.

WHY: “[The old act] allows foreign and domestic companies to take valuable minerals from public lands without paying any royalties, and it still allows public land to be purchased at the 1872 price of less than $5.00 an acre.

The 1872 Mining Law contains no environmental provisions, allowing hardrock mines to wreak havoc on western water supplies, wildlife and landscapes. Mining has polluted 40 percent of the headwaters of Western watersheds, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. ”

OR….you can just watch the video about it!

HOW: You can call or email your representative. DO IT NOW!!!!


There’s a new global warming bill making it’s way through Congress, which will finally address many of the long-standing contributors to our warming world.

WHAT: The Leiberman-Warner “America’s Climate Security Act of 2007” does not go far enough in reducing global warming emissions. Got to this page to get links to all the nitty-gritty details of the act.

The Quick and Dirty:

The bill would cap greenhouse gases at the 2005 emission level starting in 2012 and gradually reduce them to 1990 levels – a 15 percent reduction – by 2020. The measure requires deeper cuts over the long term: a 65 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2050.

“The goal should be to keep the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere below 500 parts per million,” Lieberman said. “That will avoid what (scientists) describe as a high risk of severe global warming impacts here in the United States … but also around the world.”

WHY: Though this is mostly a positive bill, it doesn’t go far enough, especially because it introduces a ‘cap and trade’ system for polluting industries. Check out this editorial from the LA Times about why it could end up making corporations zillions of dollars instead of solving the problem.

Cap-and-trade is a politically popular idea in the U.S. and Europe, but it is an extremely complex mechanism that presents irresistible opportunities for cheating and profiteering that would deeply compromise its effectiveness. Rather than creating a new carbon-trading market primed for manipulation by clever polluters and traders, Congress should be focusing on simple carbon taxes that would assess polluters for the cost of their environmental damage and offset the resulting economic pain by lowering other taxes.

HOW: As always, call or email your representative and tell them what you think about this. You can also sign MoveOn’s petition.

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.