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Stewart Udall knew first-hand the dangers of reckless mining

By Phil Hocker

March 26, 2010

Phil Hocker cofounded EARTHWORKS (as Mineral Policy Center), along with Stewart Udall and Michael McCloskey. Phil served as Mineral Policy Center s first executive director from its founding in 1988 through 1997. He writes:

I mourn the loss of Stewart Lee Udall. 

From 1954 to 1960, Stewart Udall served as Congressman from a mining-dominated region of Arizona. He knew first-hand the reckless damage the mining industry causes. He knew that the 1872 Mining Law still gives mining corporations vast power to overwhelm other values on public lands. He strove to fix it.

In January 1969, when he stepped down after eight years as Secretary of the Interior, Stewart wrote:

"...after eight years in this office, I have come to the conclusion that the most important piece of unfinished business on the nation's resource agenda is the complete replacement of the Mining Law of 1872."

When EARTHWORKS (then known as Mineral Policy Center) was formed in 1988, Stewart Udall volunteered to be Chairman of our Board of Directors. He lent his prestige and his knowledge to the campaign to reform the 1872  Mining Law. Stewart testified in person at an early Reform hearing in the Senate. He and I went door-to-door in the offices of Congress, meeting with Representatives and Senators to explain the need for 1872 Reform. He wrote letters and op-ed pieces to help spread the word. 

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