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Legislative and Regulatory Update

Senator Reid fails mining industry
Senate Bill 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, passed the Senate on January 15, 2009, and Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is solely to blame.

Reid sold out the mining industry and sided with environmental organizations like the Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy. S. 22, if passed by the House of Representatives, will place millions of additional acres off-limits to mining and other public lands uses. National Parks will be expanded, new parks and Heritage Areas will be created, new Wild and Scenic rivers will be established and wilderness studies will begin in areas that are currently open to public land users. Worse yet, the bill would establish a 26-million-acre National Landscape Conservation System. It states, “...in order to conserve, protect, and restore nationally significant landscapes that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values for the benefit of current and future generations, there is established in the Bureau of Land Management the National Landscape Conservation System.”

S. 22 contains 161 separate measures that had been struggling on their own, unable to garner enough support to pass on their own merits, so they were combined into one bill. Senator Harry Reid then met with several Republican Senators to negotiate a compromise and avoid a filibuster.

At a time when the federal government is racking up debt, the Congressional Budget Office stated, “CBO has not prepared a complete cost estimate for the provisions of S. 22 that would be subject to appropriation.” However, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) stated his office has evaluated the costs and estimates that S. 22 will cost $10 billion just to implement.

After the bill passes the House, which is expected, the Senate will convene again as the two groups attempt to reconcile differences. In the meantime, it is extremely important that you contact your Senator to register your opinion. “If this bill is successful, you will not get my support or my vote when it comes time for your re-election” would be a good way to register your opinion.

S. 22 has direct ties to Rahall’s anti-mining bill, which states that all lands under consideration for the National Landscape Conservation System will be closed to mineral entry.

It also includes a provision that makes it illegal to unintentionally disturb fossils or other "paleontological resources" on public land, and authorizes the federal government to seize your equipment and vehicle as punishment!

Change you can believe in
While the federal government continues to bail out their friends and colleagues in the financial sector, a little-noticed movement has been gaining momentum. So far, nine states have introduced legislation declaring their sovereignty from the federal government under the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The 10th Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. “

The 10th Amendment is based on a provision of the Articles of Confederation, which stated, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”

State legislators are becoming more cognizant of the push to control how and where funds are spent and appear to have grown weary of the federal government’s reach into our pocketbooks—evident by the massive financial bailouts—and into the use and enjoyment of our property, which has been severely hampered by government regulations and looks like it is going to get much worse.

The current administration is considering controversial measures in diverse areas including the Freedom of Choice Act (abortion), cap-and-trade proposals for CO2, and the massive bailout bills that just keep coming. And President Obama voted for gun control as a member of the Illinois legislature. He was also on the board of the Joyce Foundation, one of the largest financial supporters of gun control measures, though he states publicly he supports the Second Amendment.

Oklahoma State Representative Jason Murphey explains it like this:
“Both political parties have used the expansion of the federal government as a tool to accomplish their various agendas. Now a group of aggressive liberals can use that power not only to move America to the left but to build upon itself and increase in size, making the federal government more expansive and powerful than ever before.

“As a result, a bigger federal government likely will be most responsive to those only with enough money and influence to use that power to benefit themselves. This will leave the responsibility for paying for big government to the average taxpayer who cannot afford to invest in lobbyists and politicians in order to manipulate the system for their benefit.”

As of February 16, 2009, nine states have either introduced or already passed bills asserting 10th Amendment rights, effectively telling the federal government to “back off.” The two states that have already passed these resolutions are California and Georgia. States that have introduced bills include Arizona, Missouri, Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma, New Hampshire and Washington.

Additional states considering such measures include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Texas.

New Hampshire has introduced one of the most strongly worded resolutions. It specifically states that the federal government shall not establish martial law or a state of emergency without the consent of the State; shall not require involuntary servitude unless incarcerated after due process; shall not surrender any power to any corporation or foreign government; shall not further restrict religion, freedom of speech or freedom of the press; and shall not further infringe on the right to bear arms, including prohibitions on arms or ammunition.

It goes on to state, “…should any such act of Congress become law or Executive Order or Judicial Order be put into force, all powers previously delegated to the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States shall revert to the several States individually. Any future government of the United States of America shall require ratification of three quarters of the States seeking to form a government of the United States of America and shall not be binding upon any State not seeking to form such a government…”

Here are links to the state measures. (A few more have been added since this was written.)
New Hampshire
South Carolina
© ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal, CMJ Inc.
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