Jim Lyon was EARTHWORKS (then Mineral Policy Center) Vice President for Policy in the early 1990’s — the closest we’ve come to comprehensive hardrock mining reform in 137 years and counting. He is currently the Vice President for Conservation Policy at the National Wildlife Federation. He writes:
I had the honor of working closely with Stewart in the early 1990s when I was with Mineral Policy Center, and 1872 Mining Law reform legislation was on the national stage. And what could be better than the opportunity of working with a conservation legend. Stewart took Mining Law reform personally. He would repeatedly say to us that he felt it was unfinished family business for he and his brother Mo. In 1993, he wrote:
“Thirty-three years ago, in The Quiet Crisis, I wrote — America today stands poised on a pinnacle of wealth and power, yet we live in a land of vanishing beauty, of increasing ugliness, of shrinking open space, and an of an overall environment that is diminished daily by pollution and noise and blight — As for hardrock mining, however, I could have written those same words this morning. …There can be no justification for permitting the hardrock mining industry to continue exempting itself from environmental standards applicable to most other industries.”
Unfortunately, that “family business” wasn’t completed in his lifetime, but Stewart Udall was not only a conservation giant, but a builder. And one of the things he helped build was an institution (Mineral Policy Center, now EARTHWORKS) with a mission and staying power to get the job done.