A New York Times op-ed aimed at shutting down Western hard rock mining.
Enviros Robert Hughes and Carol Ann Woody complain that:
IN 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a mining law to spur the development of the West by giving hard-rock mining precedence over other uses of federal land. But the law has long since outlived its purpose, and its environmental consequences have been severe.
Mining claims for copper, gold, uranium and other minerals cover millions of those acres, and the law, now 140 years old, makes it nearly impossible to block extraction, no matter how serious the potential consequences. Soaring metal prices are now driving new mine proposals across the West…
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that headwater streams in 40 percent of Western watersheds are polluted by mining. A scientific review in 2006 of 25 modern Western mines by the environmental group Earthworks found that more than three-fourths resulted in water contamination. Over all, the E.P.A. has estimated that it will cost $20 billion to $54 billion to clean up abandoned mine sites…
Now Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, is pushing a measure that would require mining companies to pay a royalty equal to what other industries have been paying for decades, provide safeguards for clean water and give communities and agencies a say about where mining is permitted.
The bill merits broad bipartisan support. It is unwise to let this 140-year-old law continue to operate at the expense of clean water, healthy fisheries, public lands and taxpayer dollars. America’s mining law must be brought into the 21st century. [Emphasis added]