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May 10th, 2022
On Anniversary of 150-Year-Old Mining Law, Lawmakers Call For Reform with Newly Introduced Legislation

Washington, D.C. – Today, on the 150th anniversary of President Ulysses S. Grant signing the General Mining Act of 1872 into law, Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) held a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol calling for modernization of this antiquated mining law.

Chair Grijalva and Sen. Heinrich, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced their House and Senate mining reform bills, both titled the Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act, on April 26, 2022. At the press conference, lawmakers along with organizations supportive of the legislation discussed their legislation and the importance of reforming the nation’s 150-year-old mining law, especially given the increasing demand for critical minerals necessary for a clean energy transition.

The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a legislative hearing on Chair Grijalva’s bill this Thursday, May 12, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

WATCH: Press Conference on Mining Reform, May 10, 2022

Chair Grijalva: “The transition to a clean energy future will inevitably involve mining, there’s no question, but that doesn’t mean we should risk permanent damage to our sacred places, our wilderness, and our health. I don’t believe we can build a 21st century clean energy economy using a 19th century law. … That’s why I think it’s important as ever to put the [Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act] into law.”

Sen. Heinrich: “It’s time that we had a 21st century approach to mining in this country. Especially at a moment when we’re seeing increased efforts to create more domestic supply for many of these minerals, now is the right time to reform the oversight and statutory process under which we mine on our public lands.”

Rep. Lowenthal: “[The Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act] will help us fix the broken mining system on our public lands and it will also help us build a more sustainable, clean energy supply chain. … [Domestic mining] must be done in a way that meets the highest environmental standards, provides a fair return to American taxpayers, and—let me say clearly and loudly—respects tribal sovereignty.”

Lauren Pagel, Policy Director, Earthworks: “The Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act can be a key part of the reform to finally right the wrongs of the past and really create a system where everyone has a voice and where we are moving things forward in an equitable and just way.”

President Jeffrey Stiffarm, Fort Belknap Indian Community: “In the late 70s, a mining company out of Canada came in and got mining permits to do the first mine with cyanide leach mining. There were no rules or regulations in place to regulate what they did up there. They knocked down two mountains to extract gold, using cyanide leach. And then ten to twenty years later, they started running low on gold and ore up there, so they declared bankruptcy and they left. They left the federal government and the state of Montana with the responsibility to clean up the mess that they created. So now, the federal government and you the taxpayers are responsible for what that mining company has left and done to our sacred lands back home.” 

More information about Heinrich’s Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act is available here and a fact sheet on the bill is available here. More information about Grijalva’s Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act is available here and a fact sheet on the bill is available here

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