U.S. Representative Greg Gianforte (R-MT) has introduced legislation to ban mining on public land in the Paradise Valley.
According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Gianforte introduced two bills to the U.S. House of Representatives: the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act and the East Rosebud Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The latter would “conserve a portion of the creek north of Yellowstone under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.”
The Chronicle reports both bills have “received widespread support from the community,” paraphrasing Gianforte spokesman Travis Hall.
According to KBZK, Gianforte’s bill is companion legislation to a bill introduced by U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) in April (also called the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act) and was drafted with input from the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition, which recently ramped up efforts to get the legislation passed by the end of the year. From KBZK
“Greg Gianforte is doing what the wide majority of local citizens asked him to do, namely, introduce companion legislation to Tester’s bill and not muddy the waters with other issues,” said Jeff Reed, a local business owner in the Paradise Valley. “We are extremely thankful to him for protecting Montanans and our jobs.”
With legislation in both the House and Senate, business leaders say they are in a better position to pass their measure by the end of 2017.
“We’ve always said if our delegation could unite together, we would stand a much better chance of passing the Yellowstone Protection Act into law and I’m hopeful we can now finish the job this year,” said Tracy Raich, a local business owner in the Paradise Valley.
Tester’s bill proposes permanently withdrawing approximately 30,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land from mining consideration. Currently, there is a two-year moratorium on mining claims on that land.
The YGBC has also lobbied U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) to support the bill. Daines has said he supports a mining ban, and was present at the Gateway Act’s lone hearing in the Senate, but has not endorsed Tester’s bill or introduced legislation like Gianforte.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who was Gianforte’s predecessor in the House, has also expressed approval for a mining ban outside Yellowstone, pushing the Forest Service and BLM to expedite an analysis of how mining would impact the region.
Gianforte has previously voiced support for a mining ban outside Yellowstone, where a pair of companies is looking to possibly mine for gold. One company, Lucky Minerals Inc., has gotten tentative approval to explore a claim on private land.
Mining opponents argue any mine would need to expand onto public land in order to make it viable. Opponents also argue more broadly that mining would endanger Yellowstone’s scenery and ecological health.