Reclaim Our Future: The Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining

"It is time to make reform of the Mining Law part of our agenda of responsible resource development."

-U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

Prices today for minerals such as gold and uranium are heading skyward. Yet an antiquated federal law―virtually unchanged since it was signed by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 to encourage settlement of the West―still governs mining on America's public lands. That law is responsible for mining claims that encroach upon such timeless treasures as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park, allowing staggering rates of toxic releases across the country.

The 1872 Mining Law gives metal mining priority over recreation, ranching and conservation. In addition, the law allows mining companies―even those that are foreign-owned―to take precious resources from public lands virtually for free. In contrast, oil, gas and coal industries have been paying royalties since the 1920s.

In the past five years, the rate of claim-staking under the 19th-century law has risen sharply. It's time for the Obama administration and Congress to modernize the law and protect our public lands and waters, as well as the American taxpayer. Learn how we can reclaim our future.