U.S. Interior Secretary nominee Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado told the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Thursday that he will work to finally-get across the finish line-a reform to the 1872 Mining Law that does make sense.
During a confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Salazar also called abandoned mines a scar on the public domain that has had huge environmental consequences.
In response to questions by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, Salazar declared that the mining law is something that needs to be changed. It's amazing that over a hundred years later, that law has not changed.
Nevertheless, Salazar insisted, I'm not against mining ... because I understand the importance of mining. However, he added, We do need strong [environmental] standards than what are set forth in the 1872 Mining Law.
Meanwhile, Salazar told the committee that although coal is a controversial subject, it still powers much of America. He is supportive of clean coal technologies including carbon capture and sequestration. I believe we will move forward with the funding of some of those demonstration projects so we will find a way to burn coal without environmental damage.
However, Salazar is also supportive of nuclear power generation.
He pledged to clean up the mess at the Interior Department, including the scandal-plagued Minerals Management Service. If confirmed, my first priority will be to lead the Interior Department with openness in decision-making, high ethical standards, and respect for scientific integrity. ...I want the public to be proud of the department's work, and I want those who work for the department to be proud of their service.
Salazar told the senators I will work to modernize our interstate electrical grid, expand the use of renewable energy like solar and wind on public lands, and help tribes develop renewable energy resources on their lands.
We must also make wise use of our conventional natural resources, including coal, oil, and natural gas. We should promote responsible energy development in areas like the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve and prioritize the construction of the Alaska natural gas pipeline, he stressed. But as we develop our natural resources, we must adhere to the principles of good stewardship, and we must protect some of our nation's most treasured landscapes.