Audio Briefing: Senator Cantwell, western lawmakers urge swift action to reform mining law

Western stakeholders and New Mexico officials call on Senate to act now

On May 8, in the face of rising mining impacts in the West, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), New Mexico lawmakers and key western stakeholders called on the United States Senate to pass legislation to reform the 1872 mining law, the Civil War-era law that governs gold, uranium and other hardrock mining in the West. The Senator and other western leaders spoke at a telebriefing convened by the Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining on the eve of the 136th anniversary of the mining law.

A year ago, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill to modernize the nation's mining law, which still gives mining priority over other uses on many western public lands. H.R. 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007, passed in November. The U.S. Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee has held three hearings this year to identify key areas of agreement on reforming a law known by many parties as the worst public policy affecting America's public lands, but has not yet produced a bill.

New data collected this year show a dramatic rise in mining pollution, a proliferation of new mining claims, record-breaking profitability for the mining industry, and rising cleanup costs left to America's taxpayers.