“We thank Senators Udall, Heinrich, Bennet, Wyden, Markey and others for introducing legislation to reform the 1872 Mining Law.
If this bill had been law before the Gold King Mine waste disaster the Animas River might never have been polluted, and downstream communities in Colorado and New Mexico might never have suffered.
After 143 years, it’s long past time for hardrock mining companies to pay their fair share. Just like coal, oil, and gas companies, miners of gold, copper, uranium and other hardrock minerals should pay the public for what they take from public lands.
And just like coal, oil and gas companies, hardrock miners should pay a mine reclamation fee. This steady stream of long-term funding is only way to clean up the hundreds of thousands of abandoned and inactive mines, like the Gold King Mine, that litter our country. The $50 billion abandoned mine cleanup bill is far too large to be paid by Good Samaritans alone.
Perhaps most importantly, this bill saves taxpayer money by allowing land managers to disapprove mines proposed where they don’t belong. Under the 1872 Mining Law, the federal government is currently forced to approve mines regardless of other potential uses of those public lands, such as protecting drinking watersheds or sacred sites.”