Take a hammer to the 1872 Mining Act

“The 137-year-old law is a legacy of a bygone era in the West”

Folks have been trying to change this law my entire life and long before that. Will this be the year? If so, how much can it be changed?

The Oregonian thinks change is now politically possible. The 1872 Act has long been regarded as one of the best examples of the dead hand of the past still governing Western public lands politics.

“Take a hammer to the 1872 Mining Act.” The Editorial Board of the Oregonian.

Time for hard-rock mining companies to pay up. New mining reform bill introduced

Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall wants hard rock mines to pay royalties-

Despite Obama’s seeming lack of interest in mining reform (probably due to prompting from Harry Reid), the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee is not detered.

Story in the Salt Lake Tribune. Report: Time for hard-rock mining companies to pay up. Bill’s sponsor says no free ride during economic crisis. By Thomas Burr.

Gold mines are doing well in the bad economy, and that is bad news for both the economy and the environment because they are terrible polluters. Moreover, the production of gold has no clear net economic benefit because it is mostly used as an alternative way of storing wealth (and a completely unproductive one at that).

What Westerners would love to ask the candidates

They say the West is going to be in play for once and and maybe decide the 2008 presidential race. However, the candidates are not really talking about Western issues. Yes, Obama came out against the Cline coal pit mine that would pollute the Flathead River as its runs into the United States. He also seemed to take a regressive stance on the 1872 general mining act when he was contenting with Clinton in the Nevada presidential caucus.

For me, most important are questions about the management of the federal public lands.

Aside from that, I can’t think of much they have said directly about real Western issues. Ed Quillen says much the same in this Writers on the Range piece. What Westerners would love to ask the candidates

Atlanta Gold told to pay bond for arsenic cleanup if it wants gold on our land

The Forest Service is telling Atlanta Gold that it needs to post bond for cleanup of arsenic that results from the mining of gold along a tributary of the Boise River. The mine, citing the 1872 Mining Act, claims right not to do so suggesting that to do so sets an ‘unacceptable precedent.’

Atlanta Gold told to put up millions for cleanup – Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman

‘Unacceptable precedent’ for who ?  Assurances for clean water sounds like a good precedent to me.

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Senate Energy Committee holds hearings on changes in the 1872 Mining Law

As the price of gold and other “hard rock” minerals rises, the need to change the 135-year old law that established the claim and patent system on public lands grows.

Key U.S. Senate Committee hears about the need for mining reforms.  By Staci Matlock. The New Mexican.

Mining claims rise near Western cities. By Judy Pasternak, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The New West: Mine Claims Crowd Booming Cities.  Mining Industry, Still Regulated by 1872 Law, Is Nation’s Top Polluter. Environmental Working Group.

Here is a map of the thousands of mining claims. Environmental Working Group.

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