Author: Dave Maxwell

Mining reforms sought

Congressional Natural Resources Committee chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and three others held a conference call recently to talk about a package of legislative reforms to address failures leading to the Animas River spill in Colorado in August, and about historic challenges in the federal approach to abandoned mine reclamation. Also involved were Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals chair Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), and Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-NV). Lamborn is the author of HR 3843 “Locatable Mineral Claim and Maintenance Act;” and Hice is author of HR 3844 “Energy and Minerals Reclamation Foundation Establishment Act of 2015.” Workers for the Environmental Protection Agency used heavy equipment to enter the defunct Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado, near Durango, Aug. 5, 2015, and sprung a leak. A massive one. Water tainted with heavy metal, especially lead, gushed from Gold King into the nearby Animas River, turning it a solid mustard color. It flowed downstream for dozens of miles crossing state lines into Utah and New Mexico and damaged the lives of thousands people who depend on river water. Published reports by the U.S. Geological Survey, noted about 3 million gallons of heavy metal filled wastewater spilled into the river. “That’s about 60,000 bathtubs full,” the report stated. Bishop said the Department of Interior recently released “a technical evaluation undercutting EPA’s assertion that the Animas River spill was inevitable.”...

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Aftershocks continue in Lincoln County

Aftershocks from the 4.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Lincoln County continued this week, but no reports of any damage have been received. On Tuesday, though, there were two aftershocks that measured 3.1 and 3.2 respectively in the same area where the quake hit last week, part of a series of aftershocks that continue in the area southwest of Caliente. Mickey Cassar, with the Nevada Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada Reno said, “There have been minor aftershocks, a 3.8 about 20 minutes after the first one, but everything since has been very small, mostly 1 or 2.5 on the scale and tend to be on a north to south trend.” These are normally too small to feel. The Friday earthquake shook the county, as well as a wide section of southern Nevada, including Las Vegas, where many residents reported feeling the ground move. The quake, centered about 24 miles south-southwest of Caliente, ended up being more exciting than it was damaging. It was somewhat widespread as well, with reports coming from Caliente, Alamo, Panaca, Cedar City, Utah and Las Vegas. Others in Logandale, Mesquite, and Pahrump also reported the shaking. Initial reports had the quake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale, but it was later downgraded to 4.8. It was very shallow, only a depth of about 2½ miles. No property damage was reported in the county. One...

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Water bill the cause of much debate

Mark Twain once said, “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.” And the debate goes on even today in the halls of the state legislative session in Carson City. One in particular is Senate bill 81 which revises provisions relating to the management and appropriation of water. State Senator Pete Goicoechea, chairman of the Senate Government Affairs Committee, noted in his weekly telephone conference call that SB 81, “is intended to work as a groundwater management plan for water that comes from the ground up.” He said legislators have been very careful not to get any kind of a duty in there. When first introduced the bill allowed the state water engineer to be able to impose a duty on half-an-area water foot. “The state engineer (Jason King) and I differ on several points and places in water law. Can there be a duty placed on domestic wells? He says yes, and I say no. It can only be imposed on two-acre feet.” Goicoechea said there will not be any more legislation on vested water issues in this session of the legislature, but said “existing law is what it is today, and I guess at some point it will probably have to be decided in the courts just how much existing authority the state water engineer has.” Lincoln County Water District Manager Wade Poulsen said SB 81 is...

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Assembly amends public lands bill

A newly rewritten and amended legislative bill, seeking to challenge federal control of public lands in Nevada has received predictable reviews in Carson City. When first introduced by Michelle Fiore, R-Las Vegas, AB 408 was deemed unconstitutional by the Legislative Counsel Bureau. Senator Pete Goicoechea, and Assemblymen John Ellison and James Oscarson agreed with many other members of the legislature that, “it was a great idea, but a badly written bill,” and none of them thought the bill would really go anywhere in this legislative session. However, sponsors of the bill apparently worked very hard in committee and managed to craft a rewritten, more presentable bill by the April 10 deadline. Fiore and others on the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining, made a number of amendments. An article in the Review-Journal said the bill now “declares that sheriffs and their deputies are the primary law enforcement officers in the unincorporated areas of their respective counties. It would allow county sheriff’s to enter into agreements with federal agencies to exercise law enforcement authority on land managed by the federal agency.” Ellison said in committee it was a partisan vote, Republicans in favor, Democrats opposed. “But it was almost like a total different bill,” he said. Goicoechea said, “It is more focused on county law enforcement than a public land issue. It redefines the county law enforcement capabilities...

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Ranch transforms teens and helps restore families

KW Legacy Ranch in Hiko is a place for troubled youth and a drug rehab treatment facility which promotes itself as being a family focused adolescent program that utilizes a real working cattle ranch as the therapeutic approach to changing lives and playing a small part in helping transform the family’s legacy. Teens from ages 12 -18 come to Legacy Ranch, as co-founder/executive director Luke Hatch says, “not at the order of the court, but referrals given by outside professional family therapists working with either the family groups or individuals. Many are advised that the child may need more...

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