1/27/2009 — “Today the U.S. Congress takes an important step towards reforming one of the last remaining public-resource giveaways, the 1872 Mining Law. This bill, introduced by Chairman Nick Rahall, (D-WV), along with 21 co-sponsors from around the country, will promote economic development in rural communities throughout the West by creating jobs for abandoned mine clean up while protecting communities and water quality from the damage caused by modern mining.
The 1872 Mining Law, though passed before women could vote and long before the advent of national environmental laws, still governs mining for precious minerals — such as gold, copper and uranium — on public lands.
This antiquated law continues to subsidize the mining industry by allowing them to take minerals from public lands for free while polluting our countries precious resources. The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2009 will end these giveaways, make the mining industry pay their fare share and create thousands of badly needed jobs in western communities by establishing a fund to clean up the hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines that litter the west.
The 1872 Mining Law has already burdened taxpayers with billions of dollars in clean-up costs because the law contains no environmental or reclamation standards. The reform bill will modernize mining practices on public lands and balance the demand for minerals with the importance of protecting crucial drinking water supplies and other natural resources, outstanding natural lands, taxpayers, fish and wildlife habitat, and the health and well being of our communities.
EARTHWORKS applauds Chairman Rahall for his longstanding commitment to building sustainable western communities by creating jobs and cleaning up the environment.”