Longtime
mining law reform proponent Mike Dombeck, the former chief of both the U.S
Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Senate, is scheduled to testify before
the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Thursday.

Dombeck
is testifying on behalf of Trout Unlimited, the National Wildlife Federation
and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, organizations that claim
to represent million of outdoor enthusiasts, sportsmen and wildlife and fishery
professionals.

Now
a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Dombeck called the
1872 Mining Law, the “most outdated natural resource law in the nation. …Our
mining laws still reflect a time long past with a lack of balance toward the
nation’s valued water and public lands resources.”

“Professional
resource managers at the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management need
to have the ability to make science-based decisions about where and when mining
on public lands should occur. Without this discretion, professional land
managers cannot maintain their commitments as stewards of the public trust.”

Dombeck
led the U.S. Forest Service from 1997 to April 2001 and the BLM from 1994 to
1997.

The
House of Representatives passed a tough mining law reform bill, HR 2262, the
Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act, last year. The bill, whose chief sponsor
is Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-West Virginia, would
require existing hardrock mining operations on public lands pay a 4% gross
royalty while future hardrock mine would pay an 8% royalty.

The
National Mining Association announced earlier this month that William E. Cobb
of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold is also expected to testify at the Senate
hearing on behalf of the NMA.

The
Senate committee is not anticipated to support HR2262, but will instead draft
its own Mining Law reform legislation.