Las Vegas Sun

September 17, 2014

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Congress could take up a bill seeking more mining revenue

The Nevada Legislature isn’t the only place where lawmakers are aiming to get more revenue from mining companies.

In Congress, two senators are drafting a bill that would start demanding royalties from hardrock mining companies that work on public lands — and if industry spending on lobbying is any indication, mining companies are apparently counting on the Nevada delegation’s support to circumvent it. Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller and Democratic Sen. Harry Reid have been staunch protectors of the mining industry in their political careers.

According to a report by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the mining industry spent almost $32.2 million on lobbying in 2012. The National Mining Association led the pack, putting $4.8 million toward lobbying activities — more than four times the $1.1 million it spent in 2000.

The report also details where the mining association directed its campaign contributions, singling out $26,000 in political action committee money that was spent on Heller and $25,000 spent on Reid. Those figures put Heller and Reid, respectively, third and fourth on the association's PAC contribution list after House Speaker John Boehner, who was the target of $42,500 worth of lobbying, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was the recipient of $27,000.

Heller and Reid’s office declined comment.

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