Out West, Private Claims to Public Land Could Slow ; Companies Would Pay $1,000 per Acre or More If Congress Revises an 1872 Mining Law

By Brad Knickerbocker writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, November 1, 2005 | Go to article overview

Out West, Private Claims to Public Land Could Slow ; Companies Would Pay $1,000 per Acre or More If Congress Revises an 1872 Mining Law


Brad Knickerbocker writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Back when Ulysses S. Grant was president and the American West was mostly wide open spaces, Congress passed a law making it easy for miners to stake claims, dig up gold and other precious metals, and "patent" federal land (essentially assuming ownership) for as little as $2.50 an acre.

Over the years, giant earthmovers and foreign investors replaced mules and pick-axes. But the 1872 law remains on the books - a controversial remnant of US history, which has come to have considerable economic, cultural, and environmental significance.

Congress this week is revisiting that history as it debates changes to public lands management that could affect hundreds of millions of acres and billions of dollars in potential revenue from hardrock minerals, not to mention the oil and gas discovered long after President Grant himself became an historical figure.

Advocates of changing the 1872 law say valuable resources - especially domestic energy sources - are much needed in an unstable world. Since 1993, according to the US Geological Survey, US reliance on imported minerals increased seven-fold.

Their proposal, part of the House budget reconciliation bill that could be voted on as soon as Thursday, would end the annual moratorium on land patenting imposed in 1994. The aim of that Clinton-era move was to prevent mining companies (including some that are foreign-owned) from controlling federal land at low cost.

The measure would end the $2.50- per-acre provision of the 1872 law, replacing it with a $1,000-per-acre fee - or "fair market value" if higher, although that can be difficult to determine - for privatizing public lands with mineral potential.

The idea here, supporters of the provision say, is to raise some $158 million over five years and encourage "sustainable economic development" in parts of the country traditionally reliant on natural resources for jobs and revenue but also subject to boom-and- bust cycles.

It might also encourage more oil and gas development, because companies that now lease federal land for energy production would be able to buy it.

Opponents of this 21st-century effort to open up the West call it a land grab, which would worsen an already archaic law.

They warn that mineral exploration and development could imperil environmental and cultural treasures around the region, such as the north rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

Instead, they propose, mining companies should have to pay royalties - as coal companies and oil producers do on federal land.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Out West, Private Claims to Public Land Could Slow ; Companies Would Pay $1,000 per Acre or More If Congress Revises an 1872 Mining Law
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.