Press Release May 19, 2023

Representative Grijalva and Senator Heinrich Introduce Bill to Modernize Mining Laws and Better Protect National Parks and Communities

The Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act moves our country towards responsible energy development and prioritizes the health of our national parks in the process

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced the Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act of 2023 to modernize and reform our nation’s 150-year-old hardrock mining law, accelerate the clean energy transition and better protect our most sacred places. Our nation’s current mining laws have remained virtually unchanged since first being established in 1872. It offers little to no environmental protection to our public lands and adjacent national park units, vulnerable water resources and nearby communities. The Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act fixes these issues and many more, working to make the industry cleaner and more responsive to environmental protections.

Mining development around national parks can pollute air and water, destroy fragile wildlife habitat, and jeopardize visitor experiences and safety, hurting the economies of local communities that rely on park tourism. Mining operations can create toxic pollution that flows into nearby streams, rivers and lakes. Even small amounts of contamination can threaten public health and our parks’ fish, plants and wildlife. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 40 percent of the watersheds in the western United States are already contaminated by pollution from hard rock mines.

Over the past several decades, NPCA has successfully advocated against various mining proposals that would have irreparably harmed national parks, such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. But increasing demands for domestic mining on our public lands and outdated mining laws continue to threaten national parks, local tribes and communities.

NPCA understands the transition to clean energy will require mining for certain minerals and materials. However, mining for these clean energy minerals can and must be done responsibly with the highest environmental safeguards and with the greatest consideration for national parks, special places, sacred sites and local communities. The Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act moves our country towards responsible energy development and prioritizes the health of our national parks in the process.

Statement from Charlie Olsen, Climate Policy Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA):

“The Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act steers our country towards responsible energy development and protects some of the wildest and most irreplaceable landscapes in America from destructive and unnecessary mining operations. This bill ensures our national parks and all they protect aren’t sacrificed for short-term gain.

“National parks do not exist in isolation. What happens outside a park’s borders can dramatically impact their air, water and wildlife. NPCA has been successful in stopping mines next to some of our country’s most cherished national parks from Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon. But due to increased mineral demand and outdated laws, mining on public lands continues to threaten neighboring national parks and communities. The Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act brings our mining laws into the 21st century and accelerates climate action safely and equitably.

“Public lands will continue to play an important role in our country’s energy development, but this demand should not come at the expense of our national parks and communities. As our country strives to solve the climate crisis, the Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act proves that we can both transition to clean energy and do so in a way that prioritizes healthy lands, thriving wildlife, clean water and air and safe recreation experiences for all.”


About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit