Editorial: Waiting 137 years for mining reform
"It’s hard to believe that the 1872 mining law is still with us. Signed by Ulysses S. Grant four years before the invention of the telephone, the law sets the rules for mining hardrock minerals like gold and copper. Useful in the days of westward expansion, it is a disaster now. It demands no royalties from the mining companies and provides minimal environmental protections.

Its legacy, if it can be called that, is a battered landscape of abandoned mines and poisoned streams.

Republican and Democratic presidents alike have urged Congress to reform the law. Yet it survives, thanks largely to Congressional inertia and friends in high places. At the moment, that friend is Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader who resists reform because mining is big business in his home state of Nevada.

Still there is hope for change. In 2007, the House passed a good bill that would require mining companies to pay royalties, just like oil and coal producers do. The money would help pay for cleanups of abandoned mines. The bill would also strengthen environmental safeguards and allow the secretary of the interior to block mines that pose a clear danger to the environment.

Senator Jeff Bingaman, the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced a comparable bill in April. This is the first comprehensive reform bill the Senate has seen in years. But what really encourages those who seek a better law is the Obama administration’s ardent and public support."

Get the Story:
Editorial: 137 Years Later (The New York Times 7/21)

Also Today:
Mining Claims on Federal Land in Ariz. Halted Pending Review (The Washington Post 7/21)
Ban Set on Mining Claims Adjacent to Grand Canyon (The New York Times 7/21)
Interior halting uranium mining at Grand Canyon (AP 7/20)

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Editorial: No uranium mining near Grand Canyon (3/31)
Editorial: No uranium mining near Grand Canyon (2/21)
Uranium exploration allowed near Grand Canyon (02/07)