The Struggle Continues: The ongoing fight to reform the 1872 Mining Law

Community members involved with Red Thunder, Inc were pivotal in bringing awareness to the corporate and governmental alliances between the U.S. and Canada and their abuses towards public lands held in trust by the United States. Canada owned approximately 75% of mining companies worldwide, which they managed with a hit and run reputation. Paying only a few dollars an acre for public lands, these companies would open mines, extract what they needed, sell the mines, which would then be closed or apply for bankruptcy, as was the case with Pegasus. Taxpayers were left to foot the bill and bear the brunt of environmental costs, responsible for the clean up and restoration of the land, much of which is yet to be addressed. This was allowed due to an outdated 1872 mining law in the United States. This put many people who bordered public lands at especially high risk, particularly those who lived on Reservations or National Parks, and others who were exposed to the land like the ranchers whose animals grazed in those areas. 

There was extensive lobbying done at the state level in Montana that eventually led to the banning of open pit cyanide mining in the state with Initiative 137.  Awareness of the toxic dangers of this mining method has since led others around the world to ban this degree of contamination to their land and water resources in their communities as well.

In the fall of 2017, US Senators from Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, and Massachusetts introduced the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2017.  According to the press release announcing this new legislation, "This bill would impose a commonsense royalty on hardrock mining, updating a law that dates back to 1872 allowing companies to mine public lands without paying royalties. This would help pay for abandoned mine cleanup and prevent future disasters."

This legislation is much needed and long overdue. Learn more about the proposed legislation on US Senator Michael Bennet's website.

Find your US Senators' contact information here and call them to let them know that you support the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2017. Remind them that we can't afford to continue the mismanagement of our Public Lands.


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