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Western communities rally to reform 1872 mining laws, beef up environmental controls

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  • Western communities rally to reform 1872 mining laws, beef up environmental controls

    By Judith Kohler
    Denver, Colorado (AP)

    Towns throughout the Rocky Mountain West that oppose mines near water supplies and scenic areas are backing efforts to revamp a federal law regulating hard-rock mining that’s changed little since Ulysses S. Grant was president.

    A bill passed by the U.S. House in November would impose the first-ever federal royalties on gold, silver, copper and other metals mines, beef up environmental controls and give federal agencies the ability to say “No” to a mine that would irreparably harm the environment.

    For many, that last part is the heart of the bill. Under the 1872 law, federal agencies can scrutinize a company’s plan and require environmental safeguards. But they can’t decide, as they can with oil and gas drilling, that no development should occur in a certain spot.

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