The U.S. House of Representatives has, in a fit of sanity, voted to make mining companies pay royalties on minerals they dig up on public land. By a vote of 244-166, the House approved the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act, which would reform a 135-year-old law that President Ulysses S. Grant signed to encourage development in the West. Unchanged since 1872, it allows mining companies to buy land for as little as $2.50 an acre. The new legislation would also put new environmental controls on mining and set up a cleanup fund. Mine-state lawmakers got a tad dramatic. “This legislation hurts, perhaps even kills, the domestic mining industry and with it the towns and communities in western Nevada and rural America,” said Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) (After all, oil and gas companies have to pay similar royalties, and they’re barely scraping by.) The legislation is groundbreaking (ha!), but don’t get too excited: The bill faces a tougher battle in the Senate, and the White House has threatened to veto.