While everyone is distracted by a certain orange presidential candidate, a river turned orange in Colorado. The Animas River disaster happened when contractors working for the EPA accidentally released a toxic stew from an old abandoned gold mine. Before we go and dismantle the EPA and eliminate government entirely, let’s take a look at why the deadly mining waste was there in the first place.
Thanks to General Mining Act of 1872, we’ve been giving away our public lands for over 140 years and leaving a legacy of mining waste behind. Actually, it’s more like we’ve been selling the land at 1872 prices and then giving away precious rocks like gold, silver and uranium. Compare two to five dollars an acre with the current price of gold, uranium or platinum and you have an idea of the bad deal the people of the United States have been getting for over a century. No royalties, no environmental provisions, no ability to fund cleanups after inevitable disasters happen, you get the idea.
Sure, someone screwed up and uncorked the Gold King Mine’s river of toxic sludge, but that’s bound to happen when we have over 500,000 abandoned and inactive mines across the country. Methinks it’s time to change course when a law signed by Ulysses S. Grant still gives away our natural resources to mining corporations, foreign and domestic. Dig deeper into the links behind this cartoon and you’ll find some stories that will blow your mind.