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Twenty-five years ago in 1988, Wyoming architect and Sierra Club activist Phil Hocker teamed up with the greatest Interior Secretary in the history of the United States Stewart Udall, Sierra Club Executive Director and Chairman Michael McCloskey, prominent non-profit attorney Thomas Troyer, and former National Wildlife Federation President Thomas Kimball to form Mineral Policy Center.

At the very beginning, Mineral Policy Center (which became Earthworks in 2004) worked largely on oil and gas development around Yellowstone National Park.  But MPC soon turned its focus to reforming the 1872 Mining Law.  Upon leaving the Interior Department, Secretary Udall wrote:

“[A]fter 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.”

Their efforts — along with allies on Capitol Hill like Senator Dale Bumpers and Representative Nick Rahall — came very close to passing comprehensive mining reform. However, the power of the mining lobby overcame common sense proposals to protect public lands and the taxpayer’s pocketbook. Sadly, the 1872 Mining Law remains in place today, more than 140 years since it was first enacted. 

Phil Hocker, Stewart Udall and Mike McCloskey created the only national group focused on the environmental impacts of resource extraction from a community perspective. Earthworks helps impacted communities speak truth to power – whether that power is Congress, state or local governments, or even other environmental groups.

And their vision still inspires Earthworks, and our supporters, 25 years later.