Thursday, May 9, 2019

Udall joins Grijalva in protecting public lands from foreign miners


Wyoming blasts through treaty lands and leaves mercury trails in its wake but the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming are not the only public lands plundered by foreign companies under cover of The General Mining Law of 1872. Arizona and New Mexico are being ravaged by mining, too.

The US Forest Service is often powerless to stop the extractive industry from permanently altering sensitive watersheds because of the 1872 law. Thunder Basin National Grassland west of Devil's Tower is at risk to the legislation, not to mention the ground impacted by another Canadian invasion in the form of a proposed strip mine for rare earth minerals north of Sundance.

In 2018 the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe passed resolutions condemning what they say are abuses of the General Mining Law of 1872 passed to pay Civil War debt leading to the Custer Expedition's discovery of gold in the Black Hills. Another earth hater wants to mine the Rochford area not far from Pe 'Sla on Forest Service ground:
[South Dakota] Department of Environment and Natural Resources engineer Eric Holm said this week that Dakota Resource submitted applications for permits for its project from the state in early August and that the applications were reviewed, site-inspected and approved, and only await deposit of a $20,000 reclamation bond before taking effect. [Tom Griffith, Hunting for the second Homestake]
The GOP-owned South Dakota Department of Ecocide and Natural Ruination (DENR) is a rubber stamp for earth scorching. I almost peed my pants when the Rapid City Journal editorial board said:
The 1872 Mining Act was signed by President Ulysses S. Grant at a time when the government was trying to encourage people to settle and develop the West. Updating it to shift cleanup costs and extract royalties would generate millions in federal revenue. Nearly 1,000 recent mining claims have been filed in the watershed of Montana's Blackfoot River (PDF). Congress should undertake a long overdue revision of this antiquated law.
Repeal or even reform of the 1872 statute has been thwarted repeatedly: only affected tribal nations who lost treaty ground and environmental lawyers can stop mining on public lands.

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