9:09am

Mon April 18, 2011
Environment

Report Warns of Pollution Near Parks, Monuments

A controversial mining law is putting many western national parks at risk of environmental pollution.  That’s according to a new study by the Pew Environment Group which says the 1872 Hard Rock Mining law has led to a spike in mining claims near national parks. 

Citing federal data on mining claims, the report highlights a recent spike in interest in mining adjacent to places like the Grand Canyon, which according to the study, has seen 8,000 claims staked near the park since 2004. 

The Pew Environment Group’s director of US Public Lands Jane Danowitz says most of the new claims are for uranium deposits. 

"There’s no question that the Administration needs to work with the Congress to modernize our mining law which is putting our national parks and forests and other special places at risk," Danowitz says.

The 1872 Hard Rock Mining law was designed to encourage the extraction of precious metals mostly in the West.  Today mining companies – American or foreign – don’t have to pay royalties on certain minerals they extract.

Efforts to revise the law have faced stiff opposition in recent years. But Danowitz says if Congress is serious about reducing the deficit, it should take a look at reforms.