House approves updates to Idaho mining law despite concerns

Posted at 3:24 PM, Feb 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-28 17:47:51-05

BOISE, Idaho — Legislation rewriting portions of Idaho's mining law has passed the House despite concerns from several lawmakers that it could leave taxpayers with cleanup bills if a company declares bankruptcy.

The House voted 59-11 on Thursday to send to the Senate the legislation that updates the nearly 50-year-old law.

Republican Rep. Jim Addis proposed the bill on behalf of the Idaho Mining Association and told lawmakers it will promote mining in Idaho while protecting the taxpayer.

But several lawmakers questioned the financial assurance for cleanup using financial devices called corporate guarantees and several other options, saying they could leave Idaho taxpayers on the hook for pollution cleanup costs.

The Idaho Land Board, comprised of the governor and four other statewide elected officials, would have to sign off on any deal with mining companies on state lands and approve the financial arrangement.