Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming
The Price to Protect Old Faithful
As you travel to the northeast corner of the country's first National Park, be sure to appreciate the view. Because it cost taxpayers more than $70 million to keep it from being marred by a Canadian mining company, which under the 1872 Mining Law, could operate just outside park borders.
Less than three miles from Yellowstone National Park, a Canadian-owned company in 1990 proposed building the New World Mine. The mine plan called for storing processed mining waste in an impoundment the size of nearly 70 football fields, set behind a 90-foot-tall dam above the Yellowstone River, the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states. Under public pressure to protect the park, the federal government struck a $65 million deal in 1996 with Crown Butte Mines to stop the project. In 2008, another $8 million bought back more mining claims near Yellowstone's boundaries so that Old Faithful and the venerable park would be preserved.
Under the nation's mining law, once a claimholder makes a discovery, there's no ability for regulators to say, "No, not here. This place is too important."
- Marc Humphries, New World Gold Mine and Yellowstone National Park, Congressional Research Service, August 27, 1996.
- Editorial Board, "Canceling the New World Mine," New York Times, December 10, 1995.
- Outdoor Alliance, Hardrock Mining -- Rethink-Reform -- The Greater Yellowston Region, August 17, 2008. (Video)