The passing of the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act will bring long overdue reform of the nation's mining law.

It is an understatement to say that the West has changed dramatically in the last 135 years.  The impacts of this law left over from another era - an era when the West was not as populated, and when our value system was far different than it is now.

It was imperative that Congress update the General Mining Act of 1872 to reflect today’s modern day values and environmental standards.

Those of us from the West needed this bill to pass to protect the health of our communities, scarce water supplies and our public lands, which are under continuing threat from the outdated mining law.

All Americans, who are the real owners of public lands, should be getting a fair return on the minerals being extracted from public lands. In addition, communities who do not want mining in their backyards, and whose livelihoods would be threatened by the destruction of public lands nearby, should be able to petition to remove those lands from mining. I’m proud to say we moved one big step forward by passing this much-needed reform package.