2007 Congressional actions on mining law reform

 Background: The antiquated 1872 Mining Law is one of the last remaining American dinosaurs of the public resource giveaways. This 135-year-old law allows private companies to take valuable minerals like gold, copper and silver from public lands without regard for other potential values or uses of the land, without operating standards to protect the environment, without paying a royalty to the taxpayers, and without regard for mining’s impact to special places. Because the 1872 Mining Law does not protect special places or the environment from the destructive impacts of mining, many treasured places in the West are currently threatened by mining interests.

Mining has polluted 40 percent of the headwaters of Western watersheds, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.  In the mid-90’s a strong coalition of citizen’s groups fought and won a campaign to stop a proposal by now-bankrupt ASARCO mining company to exchange land and build a large open pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains. Unfortunately, a Canadian junior mining company has revived the project. The company, Augusta Resource Corporation has never owned or operated a mine. The Santa Rita Mountains have long been a source of recreation and respite for Tucsonans. As the economy of southern Arizona has shifted from one based on extraction of natural resources to one based on an outdoor lifestyle, the mining industry’s influence over the economy and power structure of the region has diminished considerably.

October 18, 2007

The House Natural Resources Committee, led by Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), will meet in open markup session to mark up the following bill:

H.R. 2262 (Rahall): To modify the requirements applicable to locatable minerals on public domain lands, consistent with the principles of self-initiation of mining claims, and for other purposes.(Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007)

House Natural Resources Committee
Full Committee Markup of H.R. 2262

Thursday, October 18, 2007, at 11:00 a.m.

Room 1324 Longworth House Office Building

The markup will be webcast live on the Committee's Web site at

July 26, 2007

The House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a legislative hearing on HR 2262 led by Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)

Opening Statement
Chairman Nick J. Rahall

Panel 1
The Honorable Larry E. Craig, R-ID
U. S. Senator

Panel 2
Mr. Henri Bisson, Deputy Director, Bureau of Land Management
The Honorable John Leshy, Former Solicitor General, Department of the Interior
Ms. Jennifer Martin, Commissioner, Arizona Game and Fish Commission
Mr. J.P. Tangen, Former Regional Solicitor, Alaska

Panel 3
Mr. Steve Ellis, Vice President of Programs, Taxpayers for Common Sense
Mr. Dusty Horwitt, Public Lands Program Analyst, Environmental Working Group
Mr. Tony Dean , Radio Host, Sportsman, Tony Dean Outdoors
Mr. Michael Marchand, Chairman, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington State
Mr. William Champion, President and CEO, Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation
Mr. Ted Wilton, Executive Vice President, Neutron Energy Company

March 2007: Introduction of new Mining Law Reform Bill

HR 2262: To modify the requirements applicable to locatable minerals on public domain lands, consistent with the principles of self-initiation of mining claims, and for other purposes.

Full Text of Bill

Current status of Bill

Please contact your local Congressperson to support this bill: Link to Earthworks action page

February 2007: Congressional Field Hearing on protecting the Santa Rita Mountains and reform of federal mining laws

The United States House of Representative’s Natural Resources Sub-Committee, chaired by Rep. Raul Grijalva held a Field Hearing in Tucson Saturday, February 24. The Committee took testimony from invited witnesses and the public about protecting the Santa Rita Mountains and reform of the 1872 Mining Law. 

Rosemont Model: The current mining proposal from Augusta has been met with fierce opposition from local residents, businesses, user groups, and government. Since January 1, resolutions, memorials, or letters opposing the project have come from Pima County, Santa Cruz County, town of Sahuarita, town of Green Valley, and City of Tucson, with more in the works.  In addition, Congressswoman Giffords  and Congressman Grijalva are seriously contemplating introducing legislation to withdraw the Santa Rita’s from mineral entry. This hearing on February 24 put the Santa Rita Mountains at ground zero in the new push to reform the 1872 Mining Law. 

Text of entire hearing, Feb. 24, 2007

Groundwater Awareness League Hearing Comments: Feb 24, 2007

Groundwater Awareness League Written Comments: Mar 6, 2007


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