Last night, Senator Crapo and Governor Otter hosted another round of opposition to the EPA’s proposed cleanup plan for the Silver Valley. Mostly a rerun of last week’s hearing, Hecla Mining employees, local citizens, and local politicians lined up for 90 seconds at the microphone.
The same complaints – that the cleanup will (somehow) affect mining jobs, that it is an unlimited federal program with unlimited expenditures, and that citizens need more time to digest it – were thoroughly rehashed.
Senator Crapo, in opening the session, noted that this cleanup is “as difficult as anywhere in the United States” and urged the EPA to recognize the need to “simultaneously” clean up the environment and protect the local economy and jobs. Governor Otter claimed to still be “in process” vetting the plan, but then came out with his opposition to water treatment facilities included in the EPA plan. Senator Risch and Congressman Minnick provided video feeds expressing their concern for jobs and the economy in the Silver Valley.
We agreed with Senator Crapo, though, that with a “collaborative problem-solving spirit” the necessary cleanup – required by both federal law and solid science – the proposed cleanup of the Silver Valley can proceed while protecting the local economy and responsible mining operations into the future. Otherwise, the toxic wastelands that remain in the Silver Valley will simply remain in the Silver Valley. And despite some of the rhetoric over the last week, doing nothing is not an option.