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This blog post originally appeared as a LTE in the Alaska Dispatch in response to this article in the Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal declined to post this response.

In his Jan. 10 op-ed (Threats to US mining exemplified in Rosemont Copper delays), Dan McGroarty ridiculously complains about the mining industry’s regulatory burden in general, and the Rosemont mine proposal’s specifically. To boot, he claims my organization epitomizes mining obstructionism.

Mr. McGroarty’s complaints are outrageous because federal law requires the U.S. Forest Service to approve the Rosemont mine.

Believe it or not, hardrock mining is still governed by the antiquated General Mining Act of 1872, giving the mining industry free access to the public’s gold, silver, copper and uranium with no royalty to the taxpayer. Because of the 1872 Mining Law, land managers must rank mining as the highest and best use of our public lands, no matter if the land is better used for another purpose.

As a result, mining companies love the U.S. The right-wing Fraser Institute annually globally surveys mining executives for the most favorable mining investment jurisdictions. Every year, U.S. public lands states rank in the top 10.

Proposed in the Santa Rita Mountains just south of Tucson, Ariz., Rosemont is a case study of a wrong-headed mine that would be denied save for the Mining Law. The area’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism and recreation, and the mine is overwhelmingly opposed by a local nonpartisan coalition. Within the Sonoran Desert, the Santa Ritas are part of the “sky island” ecosystem — home to plants and animals found nowhere else in the nation.

Mines like Rosemont, and lobbyists like Mr. McGroarty, give mining a bad name. And forward-thinking mining companies recognize it. Earthworks is in dialogue with those companies, along with jewelry retailers, labor unions and mining community members, to construct independently-verified, globally-applicable, responsible mining standards.