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November 19, 2005

GOP Bill: Selling Off Public Land

This is what happens with dark-of-night bills-- they stick in full-scale assaults on communities around the country, allowing old mining claims on public lands to be converted into full-scale sell-offs to real estate and oil companies.

This is a serious red alert since this could completely undermine environmental goals throughout the country: But the GOP may be moving into dangerous political outreach with this bill, as previous supporters turn against them:

In Montana, hunting and fishing groups have rallied to fight the measure, fearing that it could reduce public access to treasured trout streams. The Jewelers of America, a trade group for retailers, has denounced it as well, fearing a backlash by consumers.
And of course recreational users of public land are afraid that popular trails may end up being soldoff and closed.

But let's be clear about what's at stake here:

Environmental groups, looking to the database of mining claims created by their colleagues at the Environmental Working Group, say private owners could gain title to 5.7 million acres of federal forests, rocky promontories and grasslands.
A lot of environmental focus was on drilling in ANWR but the anti-enviro forces may have been able to win an even bigger victory in this bill.

The question is whether they can be stopped in the Senate and the final conference bill.

Posted by Nathan at November 19, 2005 08:16 PM