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“Blast from the Past” Blasts Nation’s Mining Law, Calls for Reform

March 25, 2008

Portland, OR – As the 2008 presidential campaign continues, a well-known former President, the late Ulysses S. Grant, is to make an appearance in Oregon today. As portrayed by an actor, Grant, the 18th President, is part of an event in Portland calling for reform of the 1872 national mining law, originally passed when Grant was in office.

Jeremiah Baumann with Environment Oregon says the law lets mining companies stake gold, silver, and other claims on public lands on the cheap, and it doesn't hold them accountable for damage to communities, water, and wild areas.

"The economy of Oregon and the West today just doesn't fit with the kind of Wild West economy that the 1872 mining law was designed for."

Senate action is expected soon on a plan to reform the mining law, and organizers of today's event say Oregon senators will play a key role. The plan would require mining companies to pay more towards clean-up, and pay royalties for what they take. The U.S. House has already passed a package of updates. Opponents say the royalties proposed are too high.

Chris Enlow with Portland-based sportswear maker Keen Footwear says his company and many others have a vested interest in a healthy, wild back country, and the 1872 mining law puts those areas at risk.

"Nearly six billion dollars annually are going into the Oregon community because of the outdoor industry and wildlife-based recreation, so as a company in the outdoor industry we want those places preserved for the future."

Baumann of Environment Oregon says the state's economic future is at risk of damage because of under-regulated mining and the damage done by toxic mine run-off.

"In the 21st century, people don't move to Oregon to stake mining claims. Today people are moving to Oregon because they like the proximity to the outdoors, they like the fact that we've protected our open space and that we've got access to hiking and recreation and fishing."

For more information on the event, visit pewminingreform.org.

Chris Thomas/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - OR