WASHINGTON - Environmental Working Group (EWG) Public Lands Senior Analyst Dusty Horwitt, called on the Congress to reform the 1872 Mining Act, signed into law by Ulysses S. Grant and not amended in any meaningful way since.
“A global land rush for minerals is threatening our national parks and western water supplies. Congress must act to protect these treasures from abusive mining practices, and provide the taxpayers with some relief by requiring mining companies to pay royalties similar to those paid by oil and gas companies. This bill could not have come at a better time," said Horwitt. "Rep. Rahall and others deserve credit for acting to update our antiquated mining law.”
“Our research shows that mining claims in the West increased more than 80 percent between January 2003 and July 2007. The mining bill would give land managers the authority to stop destructive mines -- the same authority that land managers have when they are balancing other extractive interests such as oil and gas drilling with parks and water supplies,” said Horwitt.
EWG's findings on threats to parks and national monuments helped spark an amendment to the bill from Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Jay Inslee (D-WA) that would increase protections for these treasured lands. The bill would place off-limits to new mining claims land inside Forest Service Roadless Areas and other protected places.
The measure would also require mining companies to pay a royalty just like every other extractive industry operating on federal land. The funds would be used to help clean up abandoned mines and assist communities affected by mining's boom and bust cycle.
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EWG is a not-for-profit research organization that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. EWG's work on mining can be viewed at https://www.ewg.org/featured/5