EARTHblog » Lauren Pagel
By Lauren Pagel
October 7, 2010
Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began an outreach program to individuals or companies that have mining claims on public lands under the 1872 Mining Law. The goal of the outreach is to help the Bureau mitigate abandoned mine hazards.
Outreach to claimants is a laudable goal, and something the BLM should do more of. Unfortunately, regardless of how much outreach the BLM conducts, it will not change the fact that because of the antiquated 1872 Mining Law, there isn't enough money available to truly deal with our abandoned mine problem.
There are over a half a million abandoned mines in this country that could cost as much as $50 billion to clean up. Many of these abandoned mines pose serious public safety hazards, while others pollute streams and rivers. Yet, most years the BLM, Forest Service and National Park service spend less than $25 million on abandoned mine reclamation. EARTHWORKS helped to get some money in the 2009 stimulus bill for abandoned mine remediation, but nowhere near the $50 billion estimate.
Because the 1872 Mining Law allows mining companies to take valuable minerals like gold, copper and uranium from public lands for free, with no royalty or fee paid to the taxpayer, the abandoned mines that littler our public lands continue to pose threats to people and the environment.
We need to clean up old uranium messes, and make sure we have rules to prevent new ones, before we mine more uranium
By Lauren Pagel
September 24, 2010
Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources conducted a hearing concerning H.R. 4817. The bill would amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977 and give uncertified States and Indian tribes authority to use payments to take care of certain noncoal (i.e. uranium) reclamation projects.