CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2512, the Three Kids Mine Remediation and Reclamation Act, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for approval. The bill was introduced on July 13, 2011, by Rep. Joseph Heck (R-NV) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark up and reported the on February 29, 2012, by a recorded vote of 27-17.
H.R. 2512 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to convey to the Henderson Redevelopment Agency all right, title, and interest of the United States in the Three Kids Mine Federal Land located in Clark County, Nevada. Under the bill, the government would sell approximately 950 acres of federal land, some of which are contaminated by hazardous waste, to the city of Henderson, Nevada. The sale would not be completed until the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection is satisfied that the developer has the ability and financial security to clean up, remediate and reclaim the Three Kids Mine project site. Under the bill, the Secretary would determine the sale price by estimating the fair market value of the land and reducing that amount by the estimated cost of any necessary environmental remediation and mining reclamation activities at the site. In addition, the bill would release the federal government from any future liability stemming from environmental contamination at the site.
According to Committee Report 112-512, The Three Kids Mine (TKM), located in Clark County, Nevada, operated from 1916 until 1961. The United States, through the Defense Plant Corporation (DPC), owned 446 acres of the TKM Project site from 1942 to 1955. DPC leased the site to U.S. Metals Reserve Company (MRC). MRC contracted with the Manganese Ore Company to construct and operate a mill from 1942 through 1944 to produce manganese for national defense purposes. From 1950 to 1959, the U.S. contracted with Manganese, Inc., to beneficiate federally owned ore. The U.S. also leased private lands to stockpile manganese nodules as late as 2003.
The TKM project site is approximately 1,262 acres and includes 948 acres of federal lands now managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), and 314 acres of private lands, where the mill site and processing plant are located. The TKM project site is east of the City of Henderson, Nevada. The City has annexed the area.
The site is contaminated with arsenic, lead and other heavy metals and petroleum hydrocarbons. Cost estimates for clean up and reclamation of the site range from $300 million to $1.2 billion. The lower cost estimates apply to onsite remediation and disposal of tailings and other materials in the open pits if it can be accomplished without contaminating ground water. The higher cost estimate is associated with offsite disposal of the contaminated material.
The City of Henderson, the Henderson Redevelopment Agency, the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP), Lakemoor Development, LLC, and the BLM negotiated a plan to clean up and redevelop the TKM Project site that includes the purchase of 948 acres of federal lands and relieves the federal government of the environmental liability associated with mining, milling and ore-storage activities at the site at no cost to the U.S. taxpayer. The Three Kids Mine Remediation and Reclamation Act (H.R. 2512) would provide for the conveyance of approximately 948 acres of federal land to the City of Henderson if certain conditions are met: namely that the NDEP is satisfied that the developer has the ability and financial security to clean up, remediate and reclaim the TKM project site.
The purchase price would be adjusted to reflect the actual cleanup cost of the federal and non-federal lands where the federal government has environmental liability resulting from the mill, processing facilities and the storage of federal-owned manganese nodules. In turn, the City of Henderson and the developer would absolve the federal government of any environmental liability for the site.
According to CBO, “implementing the legislation would have no significant impact on the federal budget. Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.”