Bush Lets Mining Companies Dump on More Public Land

The Bush administration announced yet another environmental rollback on Friday, following a pattern of releasing such news right before a holiday weekend, presumably in hopes that it will slip past the public’s notice. This time the beneficiaries are mining companies, which, thanks to a reinterpretation of the 1872 Mining Law, will now be able to use as much public land as they want to develop operations for mining gold, silver, and other minerals. The 131-year-old mining act, long criticized as outdated by the environmental community, already allows mining companies to extract minerals from public lands without paying any royalties to taxpayers. Steve D’Esposito of the Mineral Policy Center, an environmental group, called the Bush decision an “open invitation to dump massive quantities of toxic mining waste on unlimited amounts of our public lands. It puts clean water and community health at increased risk.”