Radio Actuality

Secretary Salazar Tells Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee: Time Has Come to Reform Outdated Mining Law


Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar testified today that as part of President Obama’s agenda for reform, the time has come to update the Mining Law of 1872 to ensure reasonable royalty payments for extracting gold, silver and other minerals from federal land and to provide more effective regulatory, clean-up and reclamation tools.

Topic / Summary / Transcript
Topic: Secretary Salazar says the time for change has arrived.
“The 1872 mining law from the point of view of the Department of the Interior and the administration is a law that must be changed. It is a law that has been on the books now for 137 years. And despite decade after decade of fights about how it is that we should reform the mining law, all of those efforts have failed. Many a senator and congressman who has sat in these committees has tried to make those changes and yet getting across the finish line has proven to be very, very elusive. I would hope that now in 2009 the time for change has finally arrived and that we can get the different stakeholders, which include the environmental conservation community as well as the mining community to help us forge a way forward for a common sensical reform of the 1872 mining law.”

Topic:Secretary Salazar says the legacy of abandoned mine lands must be addressed.
“The legacy of the mining tradition in the West has scared the environment. When we look at places like Clear Creek County and Gilpin County in Colorado and so many places across the entire West, we know that we have an abandoned mine legacy that needs to be dealt. The BLM estimates alone that we have about 18,000 abandoned mine sites just on Bureau of Land Management properties. And yet the efforts to try to clean up those abandoned mine sites has proven to be very costly and has proven to be very elusive. And so we need to address that reality of the legacy of mining in the West.”

Topic: Royalty reform will be an important component.
“… and so what we need to do is find the right level of royalty. One that is not going to drive the mining industry out of the United States of America so that those jobs are taken elsewhere, but at the same time, a level of royalty that assures that there is a fair return back to the taxpayer here in the United States. Senator Bingaman’s bill attempts to provide a range of royalties, that is something that should be explored and hopefully that we can come to some agreement on what the right level of royalties should be.”