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I haven't written about Senator Tom Udall (D. NM) this month, so far, so I thought I would keep you all up to date on what he's doing.  First off, his uranium mining cleanup bill that he authored with his colleague, Senator Martin Heinrich (D. NM), passed the Senate Energy and Resources Committee that he serves on:


The bill would amend federal law to give states and tribes the ability to apply existing funds for coal-related cleanup efforts to non-coal mine reclamation, including hundreds of abandoned uranium mines throughout New Mexico and the Navajo Nation.
“This is a commonsense, bipartisan measure to assist states like New Mexico, which has more abandoned uranium mine sites to cleanup than coal-related reclamation,” Udall said in a statement. “I’m pleased the committee recognizes the need to give states and tribes more flexibility to apply their cleanup dollars and I hope this measure advances quickly to the floor.”
“Throughout history, New Mexico has made major contributions to our country’s national security and energy needs, including communities across the state that were central to the mining and processing of uranium. But we’ve neglected our duty to these communities to clean up the mess that was left behind,” Heinrich said. “This legislation would provide much needed resources for tribes and states to clean up abandoned uranium mines and would be a significant step forward in keeping New Mexico’s families healthy and safe. I’m pleased with the progress we made today in committee and am eager to get this bill signed into law.” - Albuquerque Business First, 3/15/13
Here's the bill by the way:
Udall and his colleague in the House, Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D. AZ-3), have been the leading voices in Washington, D.C. in cleaning up and preserving our public lands and making mining companies accountable for their actions:


Since 1872, mining interests have made billions of dollars by removing and selling valuable minerals from our public lands without having to pay a cent to the American taxpayer. This is one of the biggest budget loopholes of the modern economy, and it needs to change -- especially now -- as Congress tries to address the deficit and balance budgets.

Blame this bizarre omission of royalties on the 1872 Mining Law, which encouraged Westward expansion by allowing prospectors to stake claims on public lands and freely remove “hardrock” minerals like gold, silver, copper and uranium. This saloon-era handout -established more than 140 years ago -- continues unchanged to this day.

Mining companies still receive these precious metals and minerals for free.

Today, some of the world’s biggest companies make a mint by mining our metals, selling them to the highest bidder, keeping all the profits and often sticking taxpayers with a costly cleanup bill. We’re left with a legacy of abandoned and contaminated mines on public lands that leak into streams and aquifers, lands that should be managed for the benefit of the American people. - Cibola Beacon, 3/15/13
Udall and Grijalva have received support from the Obama Administration for their call in reforming mining companies policies on public lands.

Another bill that Udall has introduced and has received bipartisan support is the Quadrennial Energy Review Act:


The Quadrennial Energy Review Act of 2013 would authorize a high-level government-wide coordination council to submit a comprehensive review of current domestic capabilities and future energy needs, as well as the resources, technologies, and policy recommendations to meet them. The first Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) would be submitted to Congress by August 1, 2015, and every 4 years thereafter. The reviews would offer a strategic roadmap to drive innovation in domestic energy sources in order to decrease our dependence on foreign oil and improve economic competitiveness and security in the United States.

Several national organizations including the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Bipartisan Policy Center, and the American Energy Innovation Council support the development of the QER. The proposal is modeled after the highly-regarded Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a legislatively-mandated review of defense strategy and priorities.

"The United States needs a 'Do it All, Do it Right' approach to energy," said Udall. "Defining our energy policy with specific priorities is a critical challenge, and this bill creates a transparent review, evaluation and planning process to achieve that goal." - Utility Products, 3/14/13

Along with Udall, the bill has been co-sponsored by Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and John Boozman (R-AR).

Another bill I'm happy to see Udall be a co-sponsor on is a bill to reauthorize the EPA's Brownfields Grants program


The Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development (BUILD) Act was introduced late last week by a bipartisan coalition, sponsored by some of the most conservative members of of the Senate, including James Inhofe (R-OK) and Michael Crapo (R-ID) as well as Democrats Frank Lautenberg (NJ) and Tom Udall (NM). The new legislation not only proposes renewing the program but also expanding some funding and increasing flexibility. The bill would allow nonprofits to seek funding for site remediation and raises the limits on those remediation grants from $200,000 to $500,000.

Geoff Anderson, Smart Growth America’s CEO and president, says what’s made this program a bipartisan priority in such polarizing times is the sheer need and its track record for success.

“This bill is a lifeline to communities that are struggling to overcome blight and contamination at abandoned industrial sites,” he said. “And it will work in every community — big or small, urban or rural — re-positioning vacant properties to create new engines of economic growth.” - DC. Streets Blog, 3/14/13

The EPA's Brownfields Program provides direct funding for brownfields assessment, cleanup, revolving loans, and environmental job training. To facilitate the leveraging of public resources, EPA's Brownfields Program collaborates with other EPA programs, other federal partners, and state agencies to identify and make available resources that can be used for brownfields activities. In addition to direct brownfields funding, EPA also provides technical information on brownfields financing matters.

So that's the latest Tom Udall related news.  Not sure if I'll be doing any more diaries this weekend since it's St. Patrick's Day weekend but I figured I would keep you all posted on what Udall was up to.  Have a safe and fun St. Patrick's Day weekend and if you want to donate to Udall's re-election campaign, you can do so here:


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Originally posted to pdc on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 04:57 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, New Mexico Kossaks, DK GreenRoots, and Native American Netroots.

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