New US Interior Secretary emphasizes importance of mining

The US Senate has overwhelmingly approved Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne (R) as Secretary of the Interior. Kempthorne, a former US Senator and mayor of Boise, Idaho, officially took office on May 31 and, according to the National Mining Association (NMA), he “wasted no time expressing his appreciation for the mining community.”

In the Washington Post of June 1 Secretary Kempthorne emphasized the benefits of mining. “When we ride on a bicycle, that’s brought to us by mining. When you ride in a car, that’s brought to you by mining,” he said. Kempthorne added that his wedding ring was “brought to me by mining.”

The NMA stated “Secretary Kempthorne brings to the department an impressive commitment to public service and a deep appreciation for the mining community, and we look forward to working closely with him.” His experience as a western governor and US senator will be particularly valuable in helping the mining community use “responsible land management practices to develop America’s vast mineral resources and accomplish vital land conservation goals,” said the NMA.

The NMA further reports that one of the issues Kempthorne has identified as a target for action is a revision of the Endangered Species Act. During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meeting held in May as part of his confirmation process, Kempthorne expressed dismay with the current structure for saving endangered species and said future efforts must be designed to ensure species recovery. He has also targeted the development of alternative energy sources and water conservation as priority action items.