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Over the 20+ year EARTHWORKS history, we ve celebrated a lot of 1872 Mining Law birthdays. Every year on the 10th of May, our thoughts turn to the law that should have gone the way of the dodo long ago.

Taxpayer rip-offs in the form of free minerals from public lands, billions in clean-up costs and mining as the nation’s largest toxic polluter just some of what this laws 138-year legacy has given us. Not exactly what President Ulysses S. Grant had in mind, I doubt, when he signed that bill into law one fine spring day back in 1872.

When the 1872 Mining Law was only a mere 96 years old, one of EARTHWORKS founders, the late, great Stewart Udall said”…after eight years in this office, I have come to the conclusion that the most important piece of unfinished business on the nation’s resource agenda is the complete replacement of the Mining Law of 1872.”

Unfortunately, we have not yet finished Stewart Udall s most important piece of unfinished business.

In what I hope will be a posthumous homage to Stewart Udall’s vision for more responsible use of our natural resources, we are closer than we have been in a decade to creating a new, modern mining law. Congressman Rahall, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and Senator Bingaman, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee have introduced legislation in the House and Senate to finally bring mining on our nation’s public lands into the 21st century.

I know that I say this every year but here’s hoping that this birthday with be the 1872 Mining Laws last!

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