US Senate Committee passes bill to ban mining near Yellowstone

4 October 2018 (Last Updated October 4th, 2018 11:38)

The US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has cleared a bill that seeks to permanently ban mining on federal public land north of Yellowstone National Park.

US Senate Committee passes bill to ban mining near Yellowstone
West side of Absaroka Range in Paradise Valley, near Emigrant, Montana. Credit: Mike.

The US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has cleared a bill that seeks to permanently ban mining on federal public land north of Yellowstone National Park.

Introduced by US Senator Jon Tester, the proposed bill, titled ‘Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act’ is aimed at protection of Montana’s Paradise Valley from hardrock gold mining.

If the bill becomes a law, mining rights for 30,000 acres of land north of Yellowstone National Park would be withdrawn.

The Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act prevents miners from exploiting acreage on the Custer Gallatin National Forest near the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness and curbs any potential expansion of proposed mines onto unclaimed public land.

Tester said: “Some places are more precious than gold. My bill will ensure outdoor recreation businesses can continue to thrive in the region, and will protect one of our nation’s greatest treasures for generations to come.”

The bill enjoys support from businesses and other groups in the Yellowstone region.

An organisation named the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition has been working on protecting the local economy from two proposed gold mines near the Yellowstone National Park.

“Some places are more precious than gold.”

The group opines that gold mining in the region could harm lands and water due to residuals such as arsenic and lead.

Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition founding member Colin Davis was quoted by media sources as saying: “Our work won’t be over until we pass this bill into law and that’s what we aim to do when Congress reconvenes in November.”

This comes days after the US Supreme Court declined to hear a petition filed by the mining industry to review the ban imposed by the previous government on new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.