Horsford defends vote against mining bill 

By: - January 28, 2020 12:03 pm

Nevada Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford during an interview in January. (Nevada Current file photo)

Nevada Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in the Nevada Current newsroom earlier this month. (Photo: Jeniffer Solis)

Congressman Steven Horsford says a federal measure that could have fattened Nevada coffers by more than $100 million a year “is not the right vehicle” to reform the state’s mining industry, which generated $7.7 billion dollars in gross sales in fiscal 2018 and paid $125 million in state and local taxes.      

The legal marijuana industry, which generates a fraction of the revenue of the mining industry, is on track to contribute more in tax revenue than mining.  

The Hardrock Leasing and Reclamation Act of 2019 would establish a federal mineral royalty that would have returned an estimated $140 million in mining proceeds to Nevada, based on 2018 figures.

Horsford, who joined Rep. Liz Cheney and other Republicans in voting against HR 2579 last year, was the only Democratic member of the House Natural Resources Committee to do so.   

“I am for mining reform,” Horsford said during a recent interview. “I don’t think anyone has done more on the issue of holding mining accountable in Nevada than me. I helped create the Commission on Mining Accountability.”

The Mining Oversight and Accountability Commission has no members and has not held a meeting since 2015.  

“It’s pretty defunct but it’s still under law and it doesn’t exist because we have people not prioritizing it,” Horsford said.    

“That particular bill I don’t feel reflects the reform that we need to really be having,” Horsford said. “I had a conversation with Chairman (Raul) Grijalva before I voted no and I told him I wanted to work on a more robust proposal on mining reform. But my district and Nevada does depend heavily on mining for our economy for jobs and for the fact that we have certain resources here that don’t exist elsewhere.  And so part of my job is to represent those interests and make sure we protect them and I didn’t think that bill did.”

“I want us to have a comprehensive conversation around mining law which we have not had in decades in Congress, and I’m prepared to have that conversation.  Chairman Grijalva is obviously committed to it as well. On that particular bill, I did not think that was the right vehicle nor did I think we were ready to advance our proposals.”  

Horsford did not say when his measure would be forthcoming. 

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.