STRIKING GOLD New legislation making its way through the halls of Congress would turn a century-old abandoned mine into the new home for an underground laboratory at a steep price to taxpayers.
Democrats and Republicans Both Fail to Protect Taxpayers
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
The plan is to build the National Underground Science Laboratory (NUSL) in the Homestake Gold Mine in the town of Lead, South Dakota. The lab would be used to do experiments on neutrinos and other subatomic particles that need to be shielded from disturbances, like cosmic rays. However, there is currently no specific neutrino experiment planned that would necessitate building a new lab.
The measure calls for most of the ownership of the mine to be turned over to the state of South Dakota. Future liability at the site would be the responsibility of the federal government, and federal taxpayers would foot the bill should other costs arise. This includes any cleanup costs resulting from past neglect by the Homestake Company and any future costs associated with the lab.
Lawmakers are pushing hard for a quick resolution because if the fate of the mine is not decided by the end of the year Homestake will flood the mine and seal it forever.
The major supporters of the legislation are much less concerned about securing the site than the political points that come along with bringing home this project to their districts. Sen. Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat up for reelection in 2002, wants to see this accomplished so that he can convince voters in this Republican-leaning state that he knows how to strike gold, so to speak. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) played a major role in shepherding the legislation in an effort to help Johnson protect his Senate seat.
In the House Rep. John Thune (R-S.D.), who has announced that he will challenge Johnson next year, is also championing the cause. Thune is pushing for the bill to be considered under the "suspension of the rules," a Congressional procedure that allows for quick voice votes without any amendments, and is usually reserved for non-controversial bills like renaming federal buildings. Having taxpayers pay potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in future cleanup costs is certainly controversial.
The fact that a voice vote will be used means there is no record of how each lawmaker voted, leaving them unaccountable to their constituents.
This bi-partisan pursuit of pork in order to secure the South Dakota Senate seat should not come at the cost of federal taxpayer dollars. Making the federal government liable for present and future cleanup at a century-old abandoned gold mine is terrible policy and a waste of money.
For more information, contact Jill Lancelot at (202)-546-8500 ext. 105
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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