1992 Scorecard Vote
The archaic 1872 Mining Law has sanctioned the degradation and giveaway of publicly owned land for decades. Enacted over a century ago to promote development of the West, the law has remained in effect due to the heavy lobbying efforts and financial contributions from corporations. The mining industry can buy Western land for as little as $2.50 an acre and mine it without any meaningful federal environmental quality standards or reclamation requirements.
Mining companies have unearthed billions of dollars worth of hardrock minerals and do not pay any royalties for the minerals they extract from the public lands. Moreover, the corporations have left the clean-up of the land, estimated at $11 billion, to American taxpayers.
For several years, Senator Dale Bumpers (D-AR) has introduced an amendment which would suspend the issuance of patents to mining claims for one year, while the Senate overhauls the 1872 Mining Law.
This year, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced an industry-backed substitute to the Bumpers patenting moratorium, which permitted mining claimants to purchase claims for the value of the surface. In other words, mining companies would be able to acquire public lands worth billions of dollars for only a few hundred dollars in some cases. The amendment was apparently designed to thwart efforts for a more comprehensive reform of the archaic mining statute.
The vote is on Senator Bumpers' move to table (kill) Senator Reid's substitute amendment. The move to table was rejected 44-52 on August 5, 1992. YES is the pro-environment vote. The Reid substitute was then approved by the Senate.