PLAN plans mining accountability forum

2011-10-21T12:42:00Z PLAN plans mining accountability forumADELLA HARDING Mining Editor Elko Daily Free Press
October 21, 2011 12:42 pm  • 

ELKO - The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada plans a mining accountability forum in Las Vegas Tuesday to look at increasing mining's share of taxes paid to the state, environmental issues and Nevada's mining history.

"We will be talking about all the issues," said Laura Martin, a PLAN organizer in Las Vegas.

The free forum will be at 5:30 p.m. at the PLAN office in Las Vegas but available on the Internet at www.ustream.tv/user/PLANEVADA.

The panel organized for the forum doesn't include any speakers from the industry, however, and Martin acknowledged the forum isn't focused on the industry's side of the story.

PLAN feels the mines are taking resources from the state to sell on the global market without paying enough taxes for the resources, she said.

"We're coming from the point where mining has millions of dollars to spend on their side. Now, we want to talk to scientists and indigenous people," she said.

Martin referred to a large advertising campaign the Nevada Mining Association has under way, especially in southern Nevada.

The panel will feature Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, John Hadder, executive director of the Great Basin Resource Watch, Tom Myers, a hydrologic consultant, and Glen Miller, a University of Nevada, Reno professor and mining expert.

Miller and Myers are affiliated with Great Basin Resource Watch.

The panel also will include Guy Rocha, former state archivist, Michon Eben of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and Larry Wahrenbrock, an activist against new mining near Virginia City, according to PLAN's announcement.

The mining industry disputes PLAN's contention that mines don't do enough for Nevada.

"I'm not sure what the purpose of PLAN's meeting is except to do what it and the individuals involved have done for years: oppose mining despite the industry providing family-sustaining wages to thousands of Nevadans and contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the state and local governments," Nevada Mining Association President Tim Crowley said Friday.

Martin said impetus for putting together the forum sprang from the Nevada Legislature's session earlier this year when the lawmakers approved reducing the number of deductions mines can take for the net proceeds tax.

She said PLAN feels "it scored some victories" in the session, such as over the deductions and elimination of an eminent domain provision for mining.

The mining industry was a target in the legislative session as lawmakers grappled with a shortage of money and looked for new revenue sources. The mining association then stepped up advertising and mine tours to tell its side of the story and educate people about mining, mining jobs and the taxes it pays.

The promotional campaign, titled "Mining for Nevada's Future," includes television advertising, billboards, newspaper advertising and ads on websites.

Dave Kirvin, a partner in Kirvin Doak Communications that put together the campaign, told the Nevada Mining Association board in early September at the association convention that mining opponents had been very active, and now the association is catching up.

"We're not taking it anymore," he said then, reporting that a survey found little overall knowledge of the mining industry or that it was even active in Nevada.

PLAN stated in its announcement on the forum that the association is buying advertising because the 2011 legislative session "ushered in the beginning of the end to some of the mining industry's extravagant and shameful privileges."

PLAN and others proposed a state constitutional change that would do away with the net proceeds of mining tax that is capped at 5 percent, thinking that without it, the Legislature could increase taxes from the industry.

The resolution to do so made it through the 2011 session and has to get through the 2013 session before going on the ballot for a vote of the people.

Martin said the forum is open to everyone. The live video is free to anyone with Internet, and there will be a live connection at the PLAN's Reno office.

"We're getting a really good response," she said, asking that those planning to attend the forum in Las Vegas contact her at lmartin@planevada.org so there is enough seating.

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