Hard times on horizon
November 25, 2005
Dear Editor: As one of the West’s historic mining centers, Pitkin County stands to lose more than 2,300 acres of the public’s natural lands should Rep. Richard Pombo’s (R-Calif.) provision to sell off existing mining claims become law. As one of the environmental groups fighting this provision, the Environmental Working Group has mapped those claims, along with other kinds of industry control over public lands in the West. Our analysis of government data shows that the hardrock mining industry has already acquired the title to an estimated 29,751 acres in Pitkin County. Under Rep. Pombo’s bundle of amendments, up to 24,086,000 acres of Colorado would be newly vulnerable to development; and given the loopholes written into his provision, real estate and other developers would have little difficulty getting their hands on the taxpayers’ property.We commend Aspen’s local leaders for talking to their congressional counterparts about this important vote (local governments sound off on federal mining bill, Nov. 17), and we invite all Coloradans to visit our Dirt Cheap report for the facts and figures you’ll need to defeat this shameless land grab. Environmental Working Group’s map showing industry control over Pitkin County is at http://www.ewg.org/mining/maps/report_mapresults.php, and our analysis of Rep. Pombo’s provision, called Dirt Cheap, can be accessed through our homepage at http://www.ewg.org.Anne Singer Washington, D.C.