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Statement of Lauren Pagel, Policy Director, EARTHWORKS, on ASARCO bankruptcy settlement

Washington D.C., December 11— Yesterday, the mining company ASARCO, a subsidiary of the Mexican corporation Grupo Mexico S.A. de C.V, paid the United States government $1.79 billion to help clean up hazardous waste pollution at ASARCO-owned mines and smelters in 19 states. This payment, the nation's largest environmental bankruptcy settlement, highlights the pressing need to reform the antiquated 1872 Mining Law, the law that governed many of ASARCO's mining properties.

The fact that a single mining company is responsible for so many highly contaminated mining sites illustrates the inadequacy of our federal mining laws. The 1872 Mining Law is long overdue for real and meaningful reform, including financial accountability, stricter enforcement provisions and concrete environmental protection standards. If a modern mining law had been in place during the time ASARCO was operating on our public lands, some of the environmental damage they caused could have been prevented.