U.S. Capitol - Washington, D.C.

  • February 01, 2011

The Road to Reform

mr-capitolOur tour concludes in Washington, D.C., where Congress is currently considering legislation to bring the 19th century mining law into the 21st century. Despite industry opposition, Chairs of the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over the mining law have introduced measures that would give the law a much-needed overhaul. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced H.R. 699, almost identical to legislation passed overwhelmingly by the House in 2007. Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has also put forth his own reform bill, S. 796.

While the Senate and House proposals are distinct, both measures contain the key tenets of real reforms, including:

  • Royalty payments for minerals taken from public lands;
  • A permanent end to the force sale of public lands;
  • Limits on new claimstaking that threatens national parks and pristine forests, valuable fish and wildlife habitat or places of cultural or historical significance;
  • The incorporation of environmental standards for mine operation and reclamation into the law itself, assuring that the privilege of mining on public lands triggers rather than overrides environmental responsibilities; and
  • Acceleration of urgently needed cleanup of abandoned mines on public lands.

It's time for Congress to take action to bring the nation's 19th century mining law into the 21st century. With the Grand Canyon and some of America's most treasured parks and special places at risk, your next family vacation may depend on it.

Side Trips: