Today, Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced the Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act. The bill would update the General Mining Act of 1872 that has governed mining operations on public lands for over 150 years. The bill would require mining companies to pay royalties on minerals extracted from public lands; institute important environmental protections to safeguard sacred sites, the environment, and water resources; and require mining companies to clean up their messes.
“Transition minerals will help power our shift to clean energy, but current mining laws and regulations fail to protect the communities, sacred sites, and water resources most impacted by mining practices,” said Earthjustice Legislative Representative Blaine Miller-McFeeley. “While we can’t avoid all mining, the reforms presented in this legislation will update our laws to the 21st century and provide us with a blueprint for protecting people, special places, and sacred sites alongside energy development.”
Mining is considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to be the most toxic industry in America and has a long history of negatively impacting the environment and public health of communities near mining sites. According to an estimate from MSCI, 97% of nickel, 79% of lithium, 68% of cobalt, and 89% of copper deposits in the U.S. are located within 35 miles of Native American Reservations, bolstering the need for stronger community and environmental protections.
“We thank Congressman Grijalva and Senator Heinrich for understanding the urgency of this moment, recognizing the dire need for mining reform, and providing a real solution for securing robust clean energy supply chains in the most sustainable way possible,” continued Miller-McFeeley. “If we’re serious about ensuring our clean energy transition is actually clean and grounded in equity and justice, we must get serious about creating a circular economy for mineral recycling and updating our mining laws to meet this moment.”