This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Amid the recent skirmishes over revising the reconciliation bill, known as the Build Back Better Plan, lawmakers once again skipped a chance to reform the General Mining Law of 1872.
Under this outdated law, hardrock miners can extract profitable minerals such as gold and silver from public lands without having to pay any federal royalties. Though it has been challenged several times over the past few decades, mainly by Democrats, the law has not been significantly updated in the nearly 150 years since its passage.
In August, a House committee, chaired by Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., tried to modernize the legislation by adding language to the reconciliation bill to establish federal royalties of between 4% to 8% on these mines. This would have been the most consequential update that the mining law has received in the nearly 15 decades since President Ulysses S. Grant signed it into existence.
However, hardrock royalty reform never even reached a vote thanks to Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Joe Manch... Read more