It’s time to overhaul the 151-year-old General Mining Act 

May 22, 2023

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona have introduced legislation to overhaul the General Mining Act of 1872, which still governs hardrock mining on federal lands, despite being completely irrelevant to today’s technologies and practices.

Their Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act (CEMRA) proposes several urgently needed and long-overdue reforms to the current law, including establishing a rental and royalty structure for hardrock mining, creating a modern leasing system similar to that for oil and gas, setting realistic reclamation standards and bonding requirements, requiring meaningful consultation with Tribes and communities, and creating processes for the withdrawal of lands that are inappropriate for mining.

“As we transition away from fossil fuels and as demand increases for minerals to produce electric vehicle batteries, solar panels, and other renewable energy technologies, our laws and regulations need to keep pace,” said Center for Western Priorities Policy Director Rachael Hamby.

Haaland visits Grand Canyon to talk monument

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visited the greater Grand Canyon landscape on Saturday to meet with Tribal leaders, local elected officials, and community members to hear about their vision for protecting the greater Grand Canyon watershed. A number of Tribes, including the Havasupai Tribe, Hopi Tribe, and Hualapai Tribe, have proposed the designation of a new national monument surrounding Grand Canyon National Park to be called the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. Baaj Nwaavjo means “where Tribes roam” for the Havasupai Tribe and I’tah Kukveni means “our footprints” for the Hopi Tribe. The Secretary’s visit is part of the federal government’s ongoing engagement and public dialogue related to this proposal, according to the Interior Department.

Quick hits

U.S. Forest Service pauses progress for Rio Tinto Arizona copper mine


Increase in Colorado oil and gas spill reports reflect stricter rules

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Study: Big Oil’s emissions responsible for 40% of land burned by western wildfires

Los Angeles Times

Feds launch review of land exchange needed to build road in Alaska’s Izembek refuge

Anchorage Daily News

Opinion: Act now to protect Dolores River canyon country

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

As wildland firefighter pay cuts loom, lawmakers propose permanent raise

Boise State Public Radio

Montana is emerging as a must-watch climate battleground

Washington Post

Once ‘paradise,’ parched Colorado valley grapples with arsenic in water


Quote of the day

”The best tool to protect the values of Dolores River canyon country in a reasonable amount of time is the designation of a national monument, an authority vested in the president by the Antiquities Act. Many of Colorado’s most cherished places have been protected by the Antiquities Act, including Camp Hale, Browns Canyon National Monument and Great Sand Dunes National Park.”

Cole Hanson, owner of The Gear Junction, and Scott Braden, director of the Colorado Wildlands Project

Picture this

mountains reflected in alpine lake with purple flowers in foreground

Although @DenaliNPS is renowned for its grand mountains and large wildlife, the park’s beauty extends beyond these features to include smaller details. Among them are over 450 types of flowering plants that can be found throughout the landscape. Photo by Gavin Danapong

(featured image: A mining claim on Bureau of Land Management land; BLM/Flickr)