Is the Era of Mining Company Giveaways Over?

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WASHINGTON, January 27, 2009 – The antiquated 1872 Mining Law, a relic of America’s westward expansion, has fought off many attempts at reform. Currently hardrock mining companies, many of them foreign, pay no royalties for the resources they extract and engage in environmentally destructive practices that often employ highly toxic chemicals in their mining efforts. A landmark Environmental Working Group investigation found that mining claims within 10 miles of the Colorado River more than doubled from 2003 to 2008. But the nation's antiquated 1872 mining law leaves federal officials virtually powerless to protect the West's iconic river from the contaminated runoff, mountains of waste and ravaged landscapes hardrock mining leaves behind. The Colorado River provides drinking water for 25 million Americans, including the cities of Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Today, over a century since the 1872 mining law passed, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) reintroduced legislation to reform the outdated law. “We applaud Chairman Rahall’s efforts to return a semblance of sanity to our antiquated mining law. Mining companies must not only pay their fair share for extracting resources from taxpayer owned public lands, but in times of dwindling fresh water supplies, must be exceptional environmental stewards as well,” said Sandra Schubert EWG Director of Government Affairs.

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EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. EWG’s reports on mining and drilling on public lands can be found at

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