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Action Alert: 1872 Mining Act May Finally See Reform Print

After nearly 137 years, the antiquated Mining Act of 1872 may finally be modernized this spring! The Mining Law of 1872 is one of the last remaining dinosaurs of the old public land giveaways. Although it was enacted 135 years ago when Ulysses S. Grant was President, it still governs hardrock mining on federal lands today.

Call Rep. Betsy Markey today to ask her to co-sponsor mining reform; her phone number is 202.225.4676.

The 1872 Mining Law contains no environmental provisions, allowing hardrock mines to wreak havoc on western water supplies, communities and landscapes. Mining has already polluted 40 percent of the headwaters of Western watersheds, according to the US EPA.

To address these issues and others, Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2009, HR 699.

CARD has documented the many harmful impacts of uranium mining on the Navajo Reservation and other lands across the West. It’s imperative that federal mining rules be modernized to protect our National Forests, Bureau of Reclamation land, National Parks and other public lands and water supplies from mining’s destructive impacts.

HR 699 will provide meaningful reform of mining laws to better protect our land, water, and communities. The bill:

  • 1. Establishes Environmental Standards.
    Under current law, there are no statutory environmental standards written specifically for hardrock mining. For example, the Clean Water Act does not protect groundwater from mining pollution, and there is no definition of how to reclaim a mine. HR 699 establishes specific environmental standards, including:
    • Surface and ground water protection
    • Prohibition of perpetual pollution
    • Adequate reclamation
    • Fish and wildlife protection
  • 2. Creates Funds to Clean Up Abandoned Mines and Assist Impacted Communities.
    There are more than 500,000 abandoned hardrock mines in the United States that will cost between $32 and $72 billion dollars to reclaim. Currently there is no dedicated federal funding source for abandoned mine reclamation or to assist impacted communities. HR 699 would:
    • Establish a Reclamation Fund to clean up abandoned mines on federal lands.
    • Create a Community Impact Assistance Fund to help communities that are economically or socially impacted by mineral activities.

HR 699 Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2009 is the best chance yet to reform our outdated Mining Act and put real teeth in mining regulations.

Please call Rep. Betsy Markey (202 225-4676) TODAY to ask her to co-sponsor and support HR 699, a meaningful mining reform bill that will protect Colorado and the West’s federal lands and water. You may leave a message with the receptionist but be sure to ask him/her to note the call.

When you call please make these points:

  • We need urgent leadership from the House to protect our land, water, economy, and communities by reforming mining laws.
  • The Mining Act of 1872 has gone virtually unchanged since it was signed by President Ulysses S. Grant. Now is the best time in over a decade to modernize the outdated policy that gives mining free reign to pollute our land and water on federal lands.
  • We urge Rep. Markey to co-sponsor HR 699 and to not let another year go by without passage of meaningful reform before May 10th - the 137th anniversary of the Mining Act.
For more information on HR 699, see


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