It was right down to the wire. On June 27th, the Interior Department approved an extension for the mineral withdrawal along the Wild and Scenic Illinois River in Oregon. The existing withdrawal, which was set to expire on June 30th, has now been replaced with a new withdrawal that will protect the river from mining for the next 20 years.
We're thrilled about the withdrawal and the protection it affords this wild and beautiful river, but it does highlight the need for meaningful reform of the 1872 Mining Law, which prioritizes mining over all other land uses.
Mineral withdrawals are a lengthy piece-meal approach to protecting our nation's last best places. We need Congress to modernize this archaic law, and better balance mining with other important land uses.
Just this month, Reps. Grijalva, Ed Markey and Rush Hotl, introduced a bill to reform the mining law (H.R. 2467), which would bring about important changes, including protection for Wild and Scenic Rivers, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, and roadless areas.