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September 12th, 2023
Ranking Member Grijalva Applauds Biden Administration Recommendations for Reforming Severely Outdated Mining Law of 1872

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of the Interior-led (DOI) Interagency Working Group on Mining Laws, Regulations, and Permitting released a new report outlining 65 recommendations for modernizing the country’s severely outdated mining system. The report was informed by tens of thousands of public comments, as well as dozens of working group meetings with external stakeholders. Upon release of the report, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) issued the following statement:

“For more than a century and a half, mining companies have been given carte blanche to pollute waterways, bypass tribal sovereignty, and leave American taxpayers with billions in cleanup and reclamation costs. We know that our transition to a clean energy future will require new minerals, but we cannot continue to operate under this destructive and unjust status quo. The Biden administration’s new report, which was informed by more than 26,000 public comments, is a welcome, commonsense set of recommendations for Congress, federal agencies, and industry to modernize our more than 150-year-old mining law in a way that better protects tribes, nearby communities, our environment, and taxpayer dollars. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the administration to implement these long-overdue reforms.”

Ranking Member Grijalva has been a longtime champion of reforming our more than 150-year-old Mining Law of 1872. On May 19, 2023, he and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced House and Senate versions of the Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act to modernize our antiquated mining system to better advance environmental justice, respect tribal sovereignty, protect the environment, and ensure a fair return for the American people.

The Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act largely mirrors the interagency working group’s recommendations. Among other important provisions, the legislation will:

  • Ensure a fair return to American taxpayers by establishing a royalty on mining operations.
  • Require federal agencies to conduct early and meaningful consultation with Tribes prior to permitting mining activities that will impact tribal communities.
  • Level the playing field between mining and all other uses of public lands–-such as grazing, hunting, and energy development–-allowing it to be managed through existing land-use planning processes.
  • Give federal land managers clear authority to protect special and sacred areas from future mining.

Set strong environmental standards for mining activities and long-term reclamation. It also sends a portion of new royalty revenue to the Abandoned Hardrock Mine Reclamation Program established in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make industry, not taxpayers, pay for cleanup of abandoned mine sites.

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