Idaho House approves updates to state mining law despite concerns

The Idaho House has backed legislation rewriting portions of the state’s mining law despite concerns from several lawmakers that it could leave taxpayers with cleanup bills if a company declares bankruptcy.

The lower chamber on Thursday voted 59-11 to send to the Senate the bill that updates the nearly 50-year-old statute.

Republican Representative Jim Addis proposed the measure on behalf of the Idaho Mining Association, saying 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. (AP)