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Tools for Regulating the Environmental Impact of Mining in the United States

April 1996

Citation: ELR 10159

Author: Susan P. Bass

Editors' Summary: Mining law in the United States is a complex patchwork of federal and state statutes and regulations. This Article provides a basic summary of that law. It begins with an overview of the mining industry. It examines the types of minerals mined, relevant forms of land and mineral ownership, and potential environmental impacts. It then discusses legal tools for restricting the use of land for mining and limiting mining's adverse environmental effects. Finally, it proposes ways to strengthen regulation of ongoing monitoring at mining sites and reclamation as part of ongoing operations, and suggests improvements to mechanisms for funding regulatory programs and assuring that finances will be available for reclamation.

Ms. Bass is a Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) in Washington, D.C., and Director of ELI's Inter-American Program. This Article is based on a report that ELI prepared for a series of comparative mining law seminars in Argentina in the fall of 1995. Support for this project was provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Tinker Foundation, and Mrs. Agnese Nelms Haury. ELI staff members, in addition to the author, who contributed to the report include Adam Babich, Nancy Golubiewski, Elizabeth Sheldon, Rose Edmonds, James McElfish, Elissa Parker, John Pendergrass, and Lawrence Pratt. ELI consultant Carolina Mauri assisted with translation of the report into Spanish.

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