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Mining Law Reform

October 12, 1994

The death of legislation to reform the 1872 mining law comes as an intolerable shock (Sept. 30). For 122 years, the American people have been royally ripped off by the mining industry. Each year, these giant corporations, many of them foreign, take billions of dollars in gold, silver, copper and other minerals that belong to Americans, and pay nothing to the U.S. Treasury. What do they leave behind on the nation's heritage of public lands? Poisoned drinking water wells, dead rivers, and moonscapes of gaping holes that could bury the Empire State Building. Who pays to clean up the mess? We, the taxpayers.

Yet this Congress, the majority of which reflects its constituents' support of reforming this antiquated law--nothing less than absurd and outlandish in this day and age--failed to stand up to a few Western senators bought and paid for by the mining industry.

The failure to reform the 1872 mining law is a lesson in the corruption brought on by our campaign financing system. It is also a frightening example of the power of the almighty buck to destroy the fragile environment that life itself, and future profits for that matter, depends on.

SUSAN ALEXANDER

Vice President of Environment

Public Media Center

San Francisco

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