February 21, 2019 10:29 PM
SILVER CITY, N.M. - Hundreds of mine workers came to voice their concerns over HB 220 and HB 255 to the Grant County Commission on Thursday morning.
The event room was at capacity with about 700 people, and a few hundred were turned away.
Miners defended their livelihoods and opposed two new mining regulations, HB 220 and HB 255. Only about four out of 700 people in the room spoke to support the two bills.
Opponents of those bills say they put too many expensive requirements on mine owners to protect water and land quality during and after mining operations.
"HB 255 deals with corporate guarantees in the mining context. We already prohibit self-guarantees. What 255 does is prohibit guarantees from a parent or subsidiary or an affiliated entity. You have to actually go out and get a real surety for," said Rep. Matthew McQueen, the sponsor of both bills.
Rep. Rebecca Dow says that she is concerned that the legislative session is not listening to the citizens of rural New Mexico, and that the legislation would impact more than 4,000 jobs.
"This is the largest employer in my district. These are good paying jobs that benefit retirement and this could close them down. It would certainly prohibit any future mines from opening," Dow said.
Some spoke in support of the bills, addressing the environmental effects of mining. Their biggest concerns had to do with qater quality.
The vote on the resolution concerning HB 255 failed 2-2, 1 abstaining, after 8 hours of discussion. The resolution concerning HB 220 passes, 3-2.
The resolutions are just to send a message, both bills are still alive at the Roundhouse.
Grant County also passed another resolution, making it a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.