House Republicans, led by Congressman Jim Gibbons, have dropped a provision in budget legislation that would have allowed the sale of public lands for mining.
Western senators had criticized the provision, which would have
overturned an eleven-year-old congressional ban that prevents
mineral companies from buying public land at cheap prices if the
land contains mineral deposits.
Gibbons, who wrote the mining legislation, revised the provision
yesterday in an attempt to gain some Western support. The new
version dropped language that would have allowed the direct sale of
some lands that no longer contain minerals.
But today, the Nevada Republican said it was clear that even the
revised provision would not make it through the Senate.
Critics -- including hunters, anglers and several Democratic
Western governors -- said the legislation could prompt the sale of
(m) millions of acres of public lands.
Gibbons said those claims were exaggerated and development would
have helped boost the economy in mining towns.
The mining provision was included in the House version of larger
budget legislation designed to cut federal spending. House and
Senate negotiators are attempting to finish work on that bill this