“Rocky Mountain Poison” Exemplifies Need for Mining Reform

Luana Rubin is a quilter and the owner of equilter.com. In 2015, when the Gold King Mine spilled approximately 3 million gallons of toxic mine wastewater into the Animas River in Colorado, turning the water brown for days, Luana decided to sew a message. If you look closely at the beautiful landscape, you will see the names of the chemicals that were released into the river.

Luana (center) with the quilt and Earthworks staff members Lauren Pagel and Paul Jolly.

The need for clean water is one common thread that binds all communities across our planet. In the years since, the Gold King Mine spill has become a focal point of national efforts to reform antiquated mining policies in the United States. The spill devastated communities in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, leaving many–especially those living on the Navajo Nation–without access to clean water from the river for weeks. 

Mining industry in the U.S. is still predominantly governed by a law enacted almost 150 years ago. This law, the 1872 General Mining Act, ignores the scale of modern mining and fails to protect our communities and hold companies accountable for the pollution they create. Though the Gold King Mine spill was extraordinary in size and impact, Luana’s quilt tells a story that is all too familiar. Under current U.S. mining laws, hardrock mines dump 50 million gallons of polluted water into our rivers every day.

Since our founding decades ago, Earthworks has worked tirelessly to promote meaningful reform of mining laws in the United States under the principle that each of us deserves access to clean water and a community free of perpetual pollution. We’re thankful to Luana for telling the story of ‘Rocky Mountain Poison’ through this quilt and sharing that message across the globe. 

The quilt was originally featured at the United Nations in Geneva for their 2016 exhibit “Water is Life”. Since then, the quilt has been displayed at the US Embassy in Rome, NASA, the Library of Congress, and the Houston Quilt Festival.

Now, Luana has been extended an incredible opportunity. The International Quilt Museum (IQM) in Lincoln, Nebraska, which welcomes 20,000 visitors a year, would now like to add it to their collection, and Luana is raising money for Earthworks prior to its donation to the IQM. Please join Luana in supporting Earthworks’ commitment to end reckless mining practices.