1995 Scorecard Vote
The 1872 Mining Law governs hardrock mining (gold, silver, copper, etc.) on Western public lands. This antiquated law promotes financial giveaways and environmental abuse by establishing mining as the "highest and best" use of public lands, giving mining companies the right to extract minerals for free and to "patent" (purchase) public land for $5 an acre or less, all without environmental standards. Since 1872, mining companies have patented $243 billion in minerals on 3.2 million acres of public domain for no more than $5 an acre. Congress has been unwilling or unable to reform a law that has contributed to 12,000 miles of polluted streams and over 557,000 abandoned mines.
In 1994, in the Interior Appropriations Bill, Congress passed a one-year moratorium on issuing further mineral patents to provide time and leverage to pass reform legislation. However, mining reform did not pass in the 103rd Congress. In 1995, the House voted to continue the moratorium as part of the Fiscal 1996 Interior Appropriations Bill, H.R. 1977, but the Senate Appropriations Committee stripped the language from the bill. On August 8, 1995, Senator Dale Bumpers (D-AR) offered an amendment to restore the House-passed moratorium. His amendment failed 46 - 51. YES is the pro-environment vote.
President Clinton vetoed H.R. 1977 on December 18, 1995.