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1872 Mining Law

Dear Secretary Norton:

We, the undersigned environmental, conservation, hunting, angling, taxpayer, and human rights organizations, wish to respond to your statements of support for reform of the 1872 Mining Law. The lack of environmental safeguards in the Law has left a legacy of ruined landscapes and polluted waters. The EPA estimates that mining has polluted more than 40 percent of the headwaters of Western rivers and streams, threatening drinking water supplies and putting the public’s health at risk. The legacy of the Mining Law also includes an estimated 500,000 abandoned mines in the United States, which could cost taxpayers between $32-72 billion to clean up.

We urge a strong and comprehensive effort to correct these environmental and fiscal problems. As organizations that represent millions of people who use and care about the public lands, and are directly affected by hard rock mining, we offer the following principles to help guide your efforts to reform the 1872 Mining Law.