NEW WORLD MINE; Congressional Record Vol. 142, No. 10
(Senate - January 25, 1996)

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[Pages S370-S371]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                             NEW WORLD MINE

  Mr. BUMPERS. Mr. President, as everyone in this body knows I have 
been a vocal proponent of reforming the 1872 mining law. This 124-year-
old anachronism continues to permit the extraction of billions of 
dollars' worth of hardrock minerals from public land without 
compensating the taxpayers and in a manner that causes significant 
environmental degradation. Unfortunately, the new majority in Congress 
has little or no interest in meaningful reform of the mining law.
  During the congressional recess an article appeared in the New York 
Times discussing the proposed New World gold mine which would be 
located within 2.5 miles of Yellowstone National Park. It is painfully 
obvious that unless action is taken soon, Yellowstone will be gravely 
imperiled. In fact, the World Heritage Commission recently designated 
Yellowstone National Park a world heritage site in danger primarily due 
to the proposed mine.
  Mr. President, some of my colleagues from the West argue that mining 
is a primary way of life in their States and any changes in the mining 
law that made it more difficult to pollute the land or provided for the 
payment of meaningful royalties would have a negative impact on their 
States. However, as the New York Times article points out, their 
constituents do not necessarily agree. In fact, much of the western 
economy depends on pristine land, air, and water. Certain mining 
operations are not synonymous with such conditions, especially in the 
absence of more stringent environmental restrictions.
  The scars of previous mining operations are littered throughout the 
country. In fact, 59 sites on the Superfund national priority list are 
directly related to mining. According to the Bureau of Mines, there are 
180,000 acres of land and 12,000 miles of rivers that have been 
polluted by waste from abandoned mines. The cost to taxpayers to clean 
up this mess will be astronomical. Yet no one seems willing to do 
anything to prevent future disasters, such as the New World mine. Mr. 
President, I urge my colleagues to carefully consider what we may be 
doing to our national treasures, such as Yellowstone Park, if we do not 
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that a report that appeared in 
the January 7 issue of the New York Times regarding the ``Montana 
Mining Town Fights Gold-Rush Plan'' dealing with the gold mine that is 
about to be built just outside the gates of Yellowstone, be printed in 
the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                [From the New York Times, Jan. 7, 1996]

               Montana Mining Town Fights Gold-Rush Plan

                           (By James Brooke)

       Cooke City, MT.--From Canadian mining barons to President 
     Clinton to American environmentalists, the bitterest mining 
     controversy of recent months has swirled like an alpine 
     blizzard around this tiny mountain village of 80 people.
       On one side, Canada's largest natural resources 
     conglomerate is determined to dig $750 million of gold and 
     silver out of a nearby 8,900-foot peak. On the other, 
     environmentalists assert that the mine would inevitably leak 
     acid into Yellowstone National Park, three miles to the west.
       Often overlooked in the international clash of press 
     releases and lawsuits are the residents here who would be 
     affected. In a town founded by gold miners, one might expect 
     to find people enthusiastic about a plan to open the state's 
     largest gold mine on Henderson Mountain, a peak named after a 
     gold panner. But skepticism about the proposal is 
     surprisingly plentiful here, reflecting a growing hostility 
     to mining in Montana, a state that is shifting its economic 
     base from mining to tourism.
       Even at the Miner's Saloon, amid mining decor of picks and 
     shovels, criticism is rife. ``I'm vehemently against it,'' 
     said Chris Warren, a 24-year-old resident, who was echoed by 
     the bartender and four men nursing drinks at the bar.
       In dissent, the saloon keeper, Larry Wicker, said he 
     appreciated the younger generation's patronage, but not their 
     views on mining. ``If it weren't for the miners, Cooke City 
     would be part of little Russia,'' he said, referring to this 
     sliver of private land surrounded by Government land, 
     including Yellowstone and two national forests.
       In a tribute to Montana's 19th century mining origins, the 
     state seal bears the motto, ``oro y plata,'' gold and silver. 
     But Montana's combined income from mining and logging was 
     surpassed in the early 1990's by recreational tourism--fly 
     fishing, elk hunting, snowmobiling, hiking, camping and river 
     rafting. Anglers alone spend $410 million a year in this 
       The shifting political winds from this economic 
     transformation are buffeting the Henderson Mountain mine 
     project, which cannot proceed until it wins environmental 
     clearances from various state and Federal authorities. The 
     process could easily take two years or more.
       On the far side of a mountain saddle here, the mining 
     company, Crown Butte Mines Inc., would hollow out Henderson 
     Mountain at the rate of 1,500 tons a day. Working at almost 
     9,000 feet, the miners would combat a forbidding climate that 
     includes 23 frost-free days a year and about 40 feet of 
     snowfall a year.
       Crown Butte purchased the mining rights on the private land 
     after deciding that technological advances and new 
     discoveries would make mining profitable.
       Environmentalists, pointing out Old Faithful geyser only 60 
     miles to the southwest, said the proposed mining site is in 
     the nation's secondmost seismically active area after the San 
     Andreas Fault. They contend that an earthquake would rupture 
     a disposal site filled with potentially toxic waste from the 
       But Crown Butte Mines maintains that it would build a dam 
     strong enough to withstand any tremor of the magnitude 
     registered in the last 150 years. While mining advocates 
     often paint their environmental opponents as outsiders or 
     newcomers, polls indicate that Montana voters are 
     increasingly hostile to new mines and to economic growth, 
     especially if it means new residents.
       In a poll of 817 registered voters conducted in December 
     for The Billings Gazette, 48 percent of the respondents said 
     that economic benefits would not outweigh possible 
     environmental damage from the project here, the New World 
     Mine. Only 29 percent favored the mine.
       Montana, with a population of 850,000, has only six people 
     per square mile. But 31 percent of respondents called for no 
     more population growth, and 45 percent agreed with the 
     statement: ``We're approaching our limits.'' The poll's 
     margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage 
       The dispute over the mine may heat up soon when the United 
     States Forest Service releases an environmental impact 
       In the six months leading up to this report, world 
     environmental attention focused on this remote mountain 
     village. A city in name only, Cooke has a one-room school and 
     a three-block-long Main Street that ends in a snowdrift half 
     the year.
       On Aug. 25, President Clinton thundered over Cooke City's 
     proposed mine site in a military helicopter. Afterward, he 
     ordered a two-year ban on mining in the 4,500 acres of 
     National Forest land surrounding Henderson Mountain.
       In September, the village visitors were members of the 
     World Heritage Committee, 

[[Page S371]]
     which monitors sites designated by international treaty as having 
     ``universal value to mankind.'' Citing the mine project, 
     among other threats, the committee added Yellowstone to its 
     list of ``World Heritage in Danger.''
       To drum up support, Crown Butte hired as a consultant Birch 
     Bayh, a former United States Senator with a record as an 
     environmentalist. The largest investor in Crown Butte is 
     Noranda Inc., Canada's largest natural resources company, 
     which is controlled by the Toronto financiers Edward and 
     Peter Bronfman.
       The debate here speaks of larger tensions between mining 
     and recreation in the state. ``Mining is an anachronism now--
     the town has become dependent on Yellowstone for its 
     livelihood,'' said Jim Barett, a local carpenter who is 
     chairman of the Beartooth Alliance, a local environmental 
     group that opposes the mine. ``To plop this huge industrial 
     complex into here would not only disrupt our lives, but would 
     have serious environmental consequences.''
       Some people think the mine would mar tourism for a town 
     that has four campgrounds, three hunting outfitters, three 
     snowmobile rental companies and 15 hotels, motels and bed and 
     breakfasts. But at Joan and Bill's Family Restaurant on Main 
     Street, a patron, Lyle Hendricks, said the $100 million 
     mining investment would outweigh any harm to tourism. 
     ``People worry about the stress of losing a job when the mine 
     plays out in 20 years,'' said Mr. Hendricks, a bearded man 
     who builds steel Quonset huts here. ``What about the stress 
     of not having a job now?''
       After Mr. Hendricks left, the waitress, Jennifer Mullee, 
     20, commented, ``In 10 years, the mining company will be 
     gone, and the land will be destroyed for our children.''
       Opinion surveys of Montana adults indicate that women 
     oppose mining by far greater margins than men.
       Mine supporters like the saloon keeper, Mr. Wicker, say 
     other mines have proved safe. In Jardine, Mont., he said, an 
     underground gold mine has burrowed to ``within yards'' of the 
     Yellowstone Park with no ill result.
       A fifth generation Montanan and a mining engineer by 
     training, Mr. Wicker dismissed the mine's opponents as 
     ``flatlanders, people from Nebraska.'' ``Everyone who gets 
     here says, `I'm the last person here, I've got my little 
     piece of Montana,' '' said Mr. Wicker, who plans to open a 
     poker room and expand his saloon hours if the mine is 
       Cooke City is a far cry from the 19th century gold rush 
     days when 5,000 raucous miners packed the town.
       For half the year, the only way to get to Cody, Wyo., the 
     nearest large city, about 40 miles away, is to travel by 
     snowmobile over Colter Pass. A year-round mining operation 
     would keep the road to Cody plowed.
       Mining officials promise to leave local creek water cleaner 
     than when they found it. As a legacy of past mines, sections 
     of local streams still run rust red from acid drainage.
       ``We can still use some of the money made from the mine to 
     clean up the area, to backfill the old mine sites,'' Joseph 
     J. Baylls, president of Crown Butte, said in a telephone 
     interview from Toronto. ``At the end of the day, it will be 
     better than today.''
       But experience has left many Montanans skeptical of mining 
     companies. ``In 20 years, the town will boom and bust, just 
     like Butte,'' said Matt Schneider, the Mining Saloon's 22-
     year-old antimining bartender.
       Long fabled as ``The Richest Hill on Earth,'' the gold and 
     copper deposits of Butte, Mont., petered out in recents 
     decades, leaving a legacy of pollution and unemployment. The 
     Atlantic Richfield Company inherited much responsibility for 
     the environmental mess in 1983 when it bought the principal 
     Butte operator, the Anaconda Minerals Company.
       In October, in a move that reflected Montana's tougher 
     stand towards mining companies, the State Justice Department 
     sent Arco a cleanup bill of $713 million.

  Mr. BUMPERS. Mr. President, I wonder if the Senator from Kansas is 
prepared, or does she need a little additional time to get ready?
  Mrs. KASSEBAUM. Mr. President, I am ready to go and, rather than call 
for a quorum, will get started on some comments that I would like to 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.
  The Chair informs the Senator that there are 4 minutes remaining 
under the control of the majority in morning business.