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“We need to reform our mining laws, which are hopelessly out of date, but not loosen oversight. Communities across the country live with mining pollution , and taxpayers — not the polluters — too often pay for cleanup. We need accountability. We need to hold mining companies responsible for their pollution to protect communities and save taxpayer dollars.

American taxpayers already shoulder an enormous financial burden from hardrock mining. The EPA estimates the backlog of cleanup costs for these mines between $20-$54 billion — vastly more than the entire annual Superfund budget. Removing meaningful public participation from the mine permitting process would make the problem even worse. It would hurt communities and cost taxpayers even more. And it would fail to deliver the regulatory certainty the mining industry craves.

Ultimately, comprehensive mining law reform is the long-term solution to this problem. The antiquated 1872 Mining Law is out of touch and out of scale with modern mining. Fortunately Senators Udall, Heinrich, Wyden and Bennett have introduced a bill, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act, to bring mining laws into the 21st Century and put communities before corporations.”

Alan Septoff, (202) 271-2355aseptoff@earthworks.org