Support Historic Bill to Reform U.S. Mining Law

Santa Ritas

A new bill has been introduced in Congress that would overhaul the 1872 Mining Law and at last bring the U.S. into the 21st century — ready to meet the demands of a clean energy economy while not repeating the mistakes of the past.

Following the steps below, tell your elected officials to support this historic legislation, and help protect the Santa Ritas, Patagonia Mountains, and other Sky Islands from toxic hardrock mining.

For 151 years, mining for copper, uranium, and other minerals has been governed by a gold-rush era law that promoted westward expansion and extraction at all costs. As a result, according to the EPA, 40% of western watersheds are now polluted. Hundreds of thousands of mines have been abandoned and left to taxpayers to clean up. And Indigenous tribes and other communities have been polluted with arsenic, mercury, and lead. This is unacceptable.

The Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act (H.R.3495, S.1742), introduced by Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), offers several solutions. It would:

  1. Establish environmental standards that don’t exist under the current law and make industry clean up their abandoned mines;
  2. Ensure a fair return to taxpayers with a royalty for mining on public lands;
  3. Create space for meaningful tribal consultation and improve siting/permitting with a leasing system and public process; and
  4. Give land managers power to protect sacred and irreplaceable resources.

Urge your elected officials to support this visionary bill and protect our public lands and water for future generations.

Photo of Santa Rita Mountains by Mike Chapman/Flickr.