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Repair mining law Print

by Joan Teresa Couse
Letter to the Editor
Fort Collins Coloradoan
November 4, 2007

I encourage Rep. Marilyn Musgrave to support the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007, HR 2262. America's mining laws haven't changed much since the 1872 Mining Act was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. Now Colorado is experiencing a new "boom" in uranium and gold mining. It's time to modernize mining law with common sense fiscal reforms and modern environmental standards.

Why is reform needed? The 1872 Mining Act allows multinational corporations to remove valuable minerals from our public lands without paying royalties to the U.S. taxpayers who own them. It has no provisions for cleanup or reclamation after mining is done. The 1872 law has no environmental protections for water, land or wildlife.

EPA estimates that 40 percent of headwater streams of our western rivers are polluted from past mining activities. Taxpayers now shoulder the burden for the enormous cost of Superfund mine cleanups.

Taxpayers have spent $190 million alone to clean up the Summitville mine in Colorado after it spilled cyanide-loaded water into the Alamosa River, killing fish for 20 miles.

HR 2262 would modernize mining laws by requiring companies to pay appropriate royalties to the U.S. Treasury.

It would end the practice of selling land to mining companies for $2.50-$5.00 an acre. HR 2262 would require companies to bond up front for cleanup and reclamation and would establish environmental standards to protect water resources, communities and wildlife. I encourage Congresswoman Musgrave to support the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act to protect our public lands and taxpayers' pockets.

Joan Teresa Couse lives in Loveland

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