Washington, DC—Today, the House Natural Resources Committee passed H.R. 2262, The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007.
The legislation provides sensible solutions to update the antiquated General Mining Act of 1872 and bring the law in line with modern values. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, as Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, held a field hearing in Tucson, Arizona this past February. The hearing provided opportunity for testimony by local officials, experts, and the public, informing the Committee and providing insight on the economic and environmental implications associated with mining on public lands.
“Today we took steps to modernize the 1872 Mining Act, to ensure that our public lands are protected, that the process is open, transparent, and that we are no longer giving away our public lands to multi-national mining companies,” stated Rep. Grijalva. “This bill takes necessary steps to protect our communities, removes the blank check for mining on public lands and makes the permit holder responsible for mitigation of damage.”
The legislation updates the 1872 Mining Act to prohibit the continued giveaway of public lands. It requires a royalty on valuable minerals extracted from federal lands, identifies categories of federal lands that will not be open to hardrock mining, establishes an overall environmental standard to mitigate the degrade of the environment, limits operations permit and makes them subject to a renewal process, and mandates lands be restored to a condition that supports its uses prior to mining.
During the Committee markup of the legislation, Rep. Grijalva successfully amended the legislation to preserve and protect tribal rights and resources. His amendments grant tribes the same authority as states and their political subdivisions to petition the Secretary of Interior to withdraw lands of religious and cultural value to the tribes.
“Corrections to the 1872 Mining Act are long overdue,” stated Grijalva. “All Americans, who are the real owners of public lands, should be getting a fair return on the minerals being extracted from public lands. In addition, communities who do not want mining in their backyards, and whose livelihoods would be threatened by the destruction of public lands nearby, should be able to petition to remove those lands from mining. I’m proud to say we moved one big step forward today by passing this much-needed reform package.”