Reform at a Geological Pace: Mining Policy on Federal Lands
This chapter presents an overview of public lands mining policy since 1960. In the executive branch, the one word that best describes hardrock mining policy is fragmentation. Changes in Congress affecting mining policy in the past forty years have been complicated. In general, the House Interior/Resources Committee has become increasingly concerned with environmental protection on the public lands in the past forty years. The courts have played a major role in interpreting the 1872 Mining Law since its passage. In terms of economics, the two key trends have been the decline in the relative importance of the mineral, timber, and ranch businesses and the rise of alternative economic activities that rely on increased environmental protection, namely tourism and recreation. Over the past 100 years, hundreds of state laws have been passed dealing with location, maintenance, and operation of mining claims on federal lands.