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PUBLIC LAND SALE TO CORPORATE AMERICA

This is a NO SHIT, SUPER SERIOUS MATTER.

My best friend Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), chair of the House Resources Committee, is proposing amendments to the US MINING LAWS. The amendments would allow multinational corporations to buy all of our public lands -- whether they contain any minerals or not - the only public
land that would exempted are: National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, designated Wilderness Areas, National & Historic Trails, National Monuments, Wild & Scenic Rivers and National Conservation Areas.

The Arctic is safe for now, but if this goes through, we are fucked.

Excuse the language but this is no joke.  The vote is today.  The Rethuglicans will hold the vote open for 24 hours to do thier arm twisting.  If this passes, it will be the biggest public land grab in US history.  If this passes, all our work to protect places like the Valle Vidal, Otero Mesa, the Upper Green, Roan Plateau, Yellowstone, etc. will be for naught.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION!

Call and fax a simple letter. Tell you Representative you want them to oppose the Houses budget reconciliation bill because it allows the sale
of our public land and guts the existing mining laws. The process is a subversion of the legislative process.

HOUSE SWITCHBOARD:

House Switchboard : 202-224-3121

DETAILS:

The "Mining" Section of the Budget Reconciliation is
a stealth approach to selling public lands

The House Reconciliation bill contains a short-sighted
and ill-considered provision to sell off our nation's
public lands without regard for the public good.
While there are some revenues associated with this
fire sale, the revenues fall far short of what could
be achieved by a true reform of the 1872 Mining Law.

The bill would:

 - Lift a ban on the sale or "patenting" of public lands to mining claim holders that has been in place since 1994.  This action immediately allows the sale
of more than 5.5 million acres of public land,including pristine land within wilderness study areas, popular recreation spots, lands adjacent to and within
treasured national parks, important wildlife habitat and critical watershed areas.

- Makes new provisions for selling land under the mining law -- allowing mining claim holders to buy land which contains or once contained valuable
minerals as well as unlimited blocks of adjacent land. Large expanses of nearly 300 million acres of Western public land could be privatized under this provision.

- Excludes any requirement that land purchased actually be used for mining, essentially legalizing what was previously considered an abuse of the mining
law and allowing mining companies, real estate developers and others to turn treasured natural areas into condos, resorts or other inappropriate developments.

- Removes a requirement to show a "discovery of a valuable mineral deposit" before making a purchase or securing rights to the land - a requirement that has been in the law since 1872.   Also weakens the existing laws requirements for mining claim holders to actually carry out claim-related work.

 - Allows mining operations conducted on these "sold" public lands to escape federal environmental review and reclamation bonding requirements.

- Creates additional opportunities for taxpayer rip-offs by requiring the Department of Interior to accept, without review, appraisals offered by
prospective land purchasers.

- Raises less than half the amount of revenue thatb could be raised by a modest 8% royalty on hardrockbmining companies - a royalty level in line with the percentage fees paid by other extractive industries
removing valuable resources from public land.

- Threatens revenues raised from oil and gas royalties, since the bill's provisions could also be used by extractive industries to purchase land
outright rather than seek lease agreements.

Will somebody get me a new Goddamned Congress?!?!?  I am sick of dealing with this shit.
*[UPDATE: I've just heard that, due to MASSIVE public opposition, the bill is on hold indefinitely. We are not sure when the budget will come up for a vote but it will not be until next week. They are delaying the vote until they get enough republican support to pass it, which they clearly do not have now. We will keep hammering the hill about the mining related provisions so they know just how bad it is. KEEP HAMMERING. IT WORKS.*

Originally posted to environmentalist on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 12:52 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I never ask for reccomendations (4.00)
    But  PLEASE give this a reccomendation.  This is no joke.  Very serious.  As many people as possible have to see this.

    -9.0,-5.54 A real soldier died in his Hummer so you could play soldier in yours.

    by environmentalist on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 12:52:51 PM PST

  •  Gallatin had a good diary on this earlier (4.00)
    that's scrolled off the edge, you can find it here. This issue needs all the attention it can get. There are reasons to reform the 1874 Mining Act, but the current GOP proposal is just one more part of the "selling of America" and the decimation of the countryside by polluters and exploiters.
    Read and Recommended!
    •  A way to strengthen the Dem party (4.00)
      Ranchers, traditionally Repub libertarians, do not like what Bush & Cheney have been doing to open land--because sometimes it's their own land, except for the mineral rights.  They wake up one morning and see that grazing lands have become heavy industrial sites, with roads and equipment, and the water gets polluted by coalbed methane extraction so the livestock get sick.

      In the West, common cause has brought enviros and ranchers together to stop drilling.

      Someone clever ought to find out how much the backers of this proposal were bribed, and by which foreign corporations, etc.  

  •  I called my Senator because my Rep won't listen (4.00)
    to anything that makes sense and told the person who answered the phone that something of this sort was being put in the reconciliation bill and that I am against it and urge Senator Nelson to do what he can to oppose it.  I mentioned Pombo as the sponsor and gave the rough outlines of the contents of the bill.

    The person on the phone had not heard of it and was clearly a bit confused by my description, though I think he managed to take my info in the end.

    Was I wasting my time to call a Senator?  My representative (Fortenberry) takes money from DeLay and oil companies that support DeLay in large amounts.  And my last letter to him has been met with deafening silence plus bad behavior of the sort I was complaining in that letter about.  Since this is a reconciliation bill that both houses must vote on, I thought it was the best I could do.

    •  Fortenberry is bought and paid for (none)
      He's my so called representative in Congress and all you get from emails, letters and phone calls to him is standard form letters. He's a rightwing nutcase, but it is sometimes good sport to torture his idiot staff by knowing more than they can ever hope to know.

      Nelson is fairly good on environmental issues, unlike Hagel.

      Nice to see a fellow First District Nebraskan on this sight. Check out my URL.

      •  I'll give Fortenberry's office a call just for (none)
        grins.  My last email to them elicited a form email with a promise to get back to me by regular mail.  That was in June, I believe, and I'm still waiting.

        I think there are other people from around here on this site.  I know at least one from Omaha.  They come out in the threads on Ben Nelson whom I agree is better on the environment that Hagel.  Which is not to say that I wouldn't prefer a more liberal Senator, but this is Nebraska and I figure half a loaf is better than no loaf at all.

        BTW, I did check your site which had good info on this issue. The figure the article there gave was $1000 per acre.  One of my other posts on this thread mentioned that I had recently bought some land at the edge of the national forest in Wyoming.  For comparison purposes, I paid more than $10,000 per acre.  So the Pombo bill is really a giveaway.

  •  If this passes, (4.00)
    and please call your reps and tell them not to pass this shit, but if it does, I say we use civil disobedience to stop it.  If the corporate terrorists want to build on the land, they will have to drag my ass off of it.  

    Boycott Citibank/Citicards. They are corporate thieves and terrorists.

    by tri on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 12:58:49 PM PST

  •  Agree (4.00)
    This is a big-time deal.  But Jerome a Paris seems to be the only one who can ever get an environmental diary onto the recommend list so people can actually read it before it vanishes amid the reports on what some Fox pundit said ten minutes ago. Apparently, if you want to say something environmental on dkos it pays to be French! or to get up really, really early..

    See Feinstein's letter describing this land grab here -
    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    •  Environmental diaries (4.00)
      have been doing better the last few weeks. This one made it on.

      Pointless, incessant barking since Mon Feb 9, 2004 at 3:05:52 PM MST

      by Blue the Wild Dog on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:30:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  YEEEAARGHH (none)
        alright! Woo-hoo! Hot damn! C'est magnifique!  
        Maybe the diarist's judicious use of profanity and capital letters were just what was needed. Oh yeah, and pehaps the great and timely content probably helped a little. Go "environmentalist"!
        •  Um... (4.00)
          I know its a little unscientific but I've gone back through my diaries.  Of the ones that made the R list, ALL contained judicious use of profanity.  Those that didnt make the R list had no profanity.

          One of these days (e.g. if Pombo gets elected) I will write a diary entirely comprised of the F-bomb.

          -9.0,-5.54 A real soldier died in his Hummer so you could play soldier in yours.

          by environmentalist on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:58:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Bill Links: (4.00)
    thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:H.R.4241:

    thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:h.r.04241:

    What an excellent day for an Excorcism... SCI/Kenyon

    by DianeL on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:12:26 PM PST

  •  Keep on talking to moderates (none)
    I just called Pelosi's office. According to the person who answered, this has been pulled for today. It will come back. It is essential that we put pressure on the moderates.

    Call your congressperson!!!

  •  Repost from earlier diary... (4.00)
    I got this from National Parks Conservation Association:

    Victory! Resources Committee Proposals Defeated!
    As many of you are aware, House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) drafted a proposal that would have sold off 15 national parks and Theodore Roosevelt Island for energy and commercial development. The proposal also called for the commercialization of all national parks, requiring the National Park Service to generate revenue with sponsorships from businesses and other entities, selling out our national parks.

    Thanks to you, more than 31,000 letters were sent to Congress, urging rejection of this absurd proposal. Your efforts paid off! The Resources Committee came out with a second proposal that DID NOT include the sale and commercialization of national parks! Your actions DO make a difference. Thank you to everyone who took action on this, and other issues. Your help is critical in protecting parks for present and future generations.

    But they do have an action item...HERE...stop by and send a letter!

    Walden tells me that the bill is still very dangerous....so please do make calls!!

    •  Pombo must go down. (none)
      Man....he's a one-man fundraising maching FOR HIS OPPOSITION....Cause I am giving whoever it is, a bundle.

      Anyone know who that will be yet?

      Excuse my language, I've been hanging out at dailyKOS.

      by coigue on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:26:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep (none)
        Here's his district, which includes part of the bay area! The plus of that for us is that his opponent should have no trouble getting tons of volunteers.

        http://nationalatlas.gov/...

      •  not yet (none)
        votepomboout.org (linked downthread) has a list of three potential challengers.  

        it's nice how the internet allows us to give money to political candidates even though they may be very far away from us.  

        freaking pombo.  i can't wait to see these guys' faces after they've  finally replaced all trees with corporations, watching their kids trying to breathe profits.  "come on son... if the penny's too big, try the dime."  

        ok, i take it back.  i can wait.  

      •  Lots running (4.00)
        There are at least three Democrats running against Pombo. The ones I know about are: Unless you've got a reason to support a particular one in the primary, I suggest donating to the ActBlue CA-11 general election fund
        •  AND... (none)
          we have a winner.

          Thanks!!!

          http://www.votepomboout.org/

          by coigue on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 02:00:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Another Dem might enter the race (4.00)
          It looks like Margee Ensign, the dean of the University of the Pacific's School of International Relations, will also be entering the race.  If she does she will probably be a serious contender in the primary.

          Of the other three candidates, only Jerry McNerney and Steve Filson are serious candidates.  Scott Chacon has raised something like $350 and has no institutional support on any level.  Jerry McNerney has a lot of grassroots support, but he lacks funding and, frankly, a certain level of organizational skills.  Filson is an Ellen Tauscher wanna be who's got some level of support from the DCCC and other elements of the DC Dem Party establishment, but who has almost no support within the district.

          If anyone is interested in these candidates, I have a lot of information at my blog Say No to Pombo.  I have written an initial  comparison of McNerney and Filson, which I think is still largely true.  Since that post I have spent quite a bit of time looking at Filson, who was something of an unknown.  Here's a breakdown of his fundraising number, which demonstrate minimal support within the district.  Also, here are three different takes on a speech Filson made:

          One, Two, and Three.  (The last one is my reaction).  

          •  Well... (none)
            I don't know much about this topic, but I just read your analysis of Filson's fundraising and where the money cam e from and I have to ask: does it matter this early in the election cycle where? I thought it would matter more: how much at this point, because with enough initial cash, it's easier to get known...if you see what I mean.

            On the other hand, maybe where the early money comes from IS a good initial predictor of a candidate's success.

            Can you fill me in, I'd like to learn.

            http://www.votepomboout.org/

            by coigue on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 08:26:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Limit the question to this race (none)
              I'm not sure whether it matters abstractly or not, but it points to something that I've been saying about this race.  

              Think about it this way, Filson has never won a single election in the district, he has no name recognition, and he has no pre-existing institutional or grassroots support within the district.  If he raised a ton of money from people in the district you might think that maybe this demonstrates that he has some other non-political network that he could effectively tap.  For example, a teacher might have a strong base of support in his or her former students and their families.  But all Filson's numbers showed is that he has wealthy neighbors and co-workers and that he has a powerful friend in Ellen Tauscher (who is a Congresswoman from a neighboring district).  

              More importantly, Filson hasn't demonstrated any ability to connect with the people in the Central Valley, which will be ground zero of any anti-Pombo effort.  

              McNerney, on the other hand, has volunteers all over the district and includes some important grassroots figures among his supporters.

              Furthermore, the context of my post about Filson's FEC numbers is that people, unsurprisingly, look at his fundraising compared to McNerney's and tacitly give Filson the front-runner status.  I guess I was pushing back against that assumption.  It might be that Filson wins the primary.  But for him to win he'll need to do more than raise money.  He'll need to find a way to connect with the people in the district.  Right now I wonder whether Filson can connect with the voters.  He's a well-off candidate from the wealthy part of a district that is otherwise more working and middle class.  And he's self-consciously running on a platform of Republican lite, which isn't sure to inspire the base in the primary.  

              You're right that it's still very early in the race.  If Filson gets the right type of endorsements and runs the right type of campaign, he might win the primary.  But the Democrats in the district are used to the Democratic Party establishment sending them crappy candidates who are sent out as sacrificial lambs without any support from the party.  McNerney at least stood up to Pombo in 2004 when nobody else would, and a lot of people joined with him and remain loyal to him today.  I guess we'll just have to see how everything shakes out.          

      •  There is Hope (4.00)
        Jerry McNerney can beat Richard Pombo

        Comes complete with realistic grimacing smirk....Bushocchio.com

        by johnj on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 02:14:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  God. Can this guy really win? (none)
          We cant have Pombo around for another term.  He has been the worst nightmare.  He's wearing us out.  Which is exactly his goal.   I'll donate to anyone who can beat Pombo.

          -9.0,-5.54 A real soldier died in his Hummer so you could play soldier in yours.

          by environmentalist on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 02:20:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I like McNerney but... (none)
            I'm really not sure if McNerney has what it takes to beat Pombo.  To some degree, it's an open question before Margee Ensign officially enters the race and makes her case to the Democrats in the district.  If she's as progressive as McNerney, which I have reason to believe she is, only one of them will stay in the race until the primary.  If it's McNerney, a lot of support from very progressive parts of the Bay Area will redound to him.  If it's Ensign, she'll be the beneficiary of that support.  I doubt Filson will see much or any of it before the primary.  

            Whoever wins the primary, of course, will have a lot of support from some very motivated Democrats, Independents, Greens, and yes, Republicans.

  •  I'm already in a bad mood (4.00)
    One more good reason to call Musgrave's office and give her a [another] piece of my mind.

    Unbought, the new ass-kicking little sister of Unbossed, seeking activist bloggers.

    by em dash on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:15:25 PM PST

  •  OK, Come on East Bay types (none)
    Are you putting up strong opposition to this clown next year? Seems like the last Democrat was a good candidate but suffered from lack of funding.

    When Jesus returns, religious wingnuttia will have him committed to an asylum. - anonymous

    by Doug in SF on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:27:57 PM PST

  •  Holy Crap! (4.00)

    If I understand what you're describing, then calling those provisions an outrage is far too mild.  Maybe, "Biggest Travesty Ever"?  

    As a westerner (if only in spirit these days), I understand just what a big deal that is.  With many western states owned 50%-95% by the federal government, mostly in the form of BLM land and National Forests, you would fundamentally reorder the very nature of land ownership in those states.  And you are quite right that the removal of even a fig-leaf requirement to pretend to mine would make this the 2005 Condos Everywhere Act.  

    Time to re-up my Sierra Club membership.

  •  The key here (4.00)
    is that the bill allows the filing of a mining claim for no reason at all. I could drive 15 minutes from my home and be in National Forest where I could put down a claim.

    If your representative is a Republican, mention that this would be an administrative nightmare, a total free-for-all.

    Pointless, incessant barking since Mon Feb 9, 2004 at 3:05:52 PM MST

    by Blue the Wild Dog on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:34:37 PM PST

  •  What bill number is this? (4.00)
    Makes it easier to talk to the staffers...

    "A CONSERVATIVE is a man who is too cowardly to fight and too fat to run." --Elbert Hubbard

    by Rico on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:34:42 PM PST

  •  Pombo must go. (4.00)
    http://www.votepomboout.org/

    "Sept. 28, 2005 -- Ethics watchdog group names Pombo one of 13 "most corrupt" lawmakers in Congress, seeks investigations. See:  Citizens for Ethics report[below]"

    http://www.citizensforethics.org/...

    Excuse my language, I've been hanging out at dailyKOS.

    by coigue on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:40:07 PM PST

  •  This is a real kicker-- (4.00)
    "...Makes new provisions for selling land under the mining law -- allowing mining claim holders to buy land which contains or once contained valuable
    minerals
    as well as unlimited blocks of adjacent land. Large expanses of nearly 300 million acres of Western public land could be privatized under this provision."

    Again, as a citizen of a mining state, and one who once lived in a mining town--I am not anti-mining! However, this is not a mining bill. IT IS A LAND GRAB.  

    Imagine what could happen in the old Bonanza region of Nevada, or the Gold Country of California if "land that once contained valuable minerals," could be sold off to developers? Or, what could happen in those areas of Montana, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado or Arizona that were once valuable mineral sites?  And, then there's the issue of buying up "unlimited blocks of adjacent land."  

  •  More about Pombo (4.00)

    Excuse my language, I've been hanging out at dailyKOS.

    by coigue on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:45:10 PM PST

  •  What is important here is that... (none)
    Republican moderates are beginning to rebel.  There is no better time than now to pressure Republican Senators and Reps.  The real Republicans are beginning an attempt to take their party back from the interloping neo-cons.

    Certainty generally is illusion, and repose is not the destiny of man. - OWH

    by blockbuster on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:49:23 PM PST

    •  No, the people that those GOP Rep's (4.00)
      represent are starting to rebel. A subtlety, I know, but your comment perpetuates the idea that we the people cannot influence our elected officials.

      And with the update, it seems that the people's voices have been heard.

      Cheers

      •  even better. (none)
        That's it. I am changing my sig.

        Excuse my language, I've been hanging out at dailyKOS.

        by coigue on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:55:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've been long bothered with this (none)
          concept that our elected leaders are like any product you buy off the shelf, whether it be beer or window cleaner. They even package themselves as such, with lists of things they stand for, etc. What they really are are our representatives, and so they should pay careful attention to what we say. Of course, when only 40% of those eligible vote...

          There was a member of the Maine State House, a well known conservative. WHen the first gay rights bill came up years ago, he voted for it. He was taken to task by fellow conservatives, but he explained that he received 6 or 8 phone calls telling him to support it, and none from those opposed. So John McCormick voted for it.

          •  I DO actually think (none)
            that people do have an influence on many (if not most) of our representatives. It actually makes me hopping mad when I hear other liberals say..."it's no use, nothing will come of it if I call, wrote, etc".

            It's just simply not true,(as we have seen time and time again on dKOS) and that attitude drains the energy out of a movement.

            http://www.votepomboout.org/

            by coigue on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 02:47:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  My God Pombo is a ass. (none)
    He got his Anti-Endangered Bill through the House and I think it's emboldened him.

    I doubt this attempt, if it makes it through the house, will pass in the Senate.

    Thanks for the head-up.

  •  Our environment (4.00)
    For those who think selling off public lands may be a good idea,if there is anyone that does, I would suggest an afternoon looking at Superfund Cleanup Sites, so many of which are related to military ventures, nuclear and chemical. Then check out how many mining interests have abandoned their polluted sites and responsibilities to the taxpayer after they have gone bankrupt.

    If thats still not enough for you to digest you to think if its this bad in North America where we pretend to be environmentally responsible think for a moment what its like for people in Angola and Chad and the Congo where our mining and oil interests have no one keeping an eye open.

  •  Man I hate that they think we're that dumb (none)
    But we will be if we don't speak up real loud and right now. I'm flabberghasted! How does something like this even get considered?
    Does anyone know the bill this amendment attach to?
  •  First they bancrupt the bottom 99% (none)
    now they sell off America one forest at a time.

    Congressional Limbo -- how low can you go.

    The Bush legacy: The brutal, senseless murder of the American dream.

    by CitizenOfEarth on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 02:30:01 PM PST

    •  thats the plan serf. (none)
      A return to the Middle Ages.  

      -9.0,-5.54 A real soldier died in his Hummer so you could play soldier in yours.

      by environmentalist on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 02:32:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  God DAMN (4.00)
      you cant turn your back on these fuckers for even a MINUTE!!  every fucking week these bastards try and throw some new shit at us to destroy the enviro and/or make companies richer.  this if fucking insane!

      excuse my language, but i am beyond furious, approaching apoplectic about this kind of congressional bullshit...

      I swear to god, DAYS before these fuckers are voted out, they'll sell the entire country to Halliburton and Exxon...

      We were promised a democracy, sold an oligarchy, and ended up with a kakistocracy...

      by topicalstorm on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 05:15:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  great diary. recommended. Thank you. (none)
    nm
  •  I actually own land in Wyoming that was once a (none)
    mining claim.  Most of these claims were never commercially viable, but in filing a claim the people who did so made it possible for them to enter private ownership.  That might not have been a bad thing 100 years ago, though some of it clearly led to dirty toxic sites that still are not entirely clean.  

    These days the mining claim business is just a pretext to get the land in private hands by paying the government a very small amount of the market value of the land.  And some of this land belongs in the public domain, not private hands.

    The small plot I bought is at the end of a road.  But there is a former claim that the Feds repurchased or traded for just into the National Forest from my plot.  If it were repurchased by a private person or company (At much less than what I had to pay for my parcel) and developed it would very much adversely effect me.  They'd be looking to put a road in, and so on.  This proposal is not good for the environment, nor for small western landowners.

    But apart from my private problems (which I include just to emphasize that it isn't just Easterners with no connection to the land who care about this) this is a very bad idea.

  •  thanks for posting this n/t (none)
  •  Quick question (none)
    I realize that the bill this was attached to is now on hold, perhaps permanently, perhaps not. But which public lands would have been included under this amendment? Interior Department? National Forests? BLM? Other?

    On a related matter, under which of these departments does ANWR fall? Just trying to figure out how this all fits together.

    •  All of the above (none)
      All the lands you mention would be covered. ANWR is a wildlife refuge, and would therefore be exempt.

      What I'm not clear on is whether it would be possible to buy up military bases, and thereby force their closure.

    •  Good questions. (4.00)
      The bill requires the Secretary of the Interior to sell public lands, including National Forests, deemed to contain "mineral deposits" and "depleted mineral deposits." There is no requirement that mining patent claimants prove that a valuable mineral exists in order to obtain a patent.  Here's what Earthjustice said about it in a memo to House members:

      Since 1994 Congress has banned the "patenting" or sale of federal lands containing hard rock mineral deposits.  Subtitle B of the House Resources Committee's reconciliation bill would revive this practice by allowing mining companies and others to "patent" mining claims on public lands for $1,000 per acre.  However, unlike the old 1872 Mining Law, which required claimants to prove that a valuable mineral existed in order to obtain a patent, the House Resources Committee language eliminates that requirement.  The provision therefore would allow claimants to obtain fee title to tens of thousands of acres of mining claims.  In addition, the language requires the Secretary of the Interior to sell BLM and National Forest lands containing "mineral deposits" for $1,000 per acre.  It allows the mining industry to take title to public lands without regard for the value of the land for other uses and without full compensation to the federal treasury.

      Section 6201 revises a long-standing requirement of mining law that requires a determination that an area "claimed" for mining actually has a valuable mineral deposit.  This section allows mining companies to secure the right to mine and the right to purchase the property as soon as they file a claim with the Bureau of Land Management and pay a small fee.  

      Section 6202 eliminates the current Congressional ban on the outright sale or "patenting" of public lands to those who have staked claims.  Under this section, mining claims of up to 20 acres could be bought outright by claimants for $1,000/acre or fair market value, whichever is greater.  "Fair market value," under this language, includes only the value of the surface and therefore it has no consideration of the value of gold, silver and other minerals under the surface.  Mineral resources contained in the land are conveyed to the claimant, with no royalty returned to the federal government.

      This section also specifically prohibits any other fees or fair market value assessments to be applied to "prospecting, exploration, development, mining, processing, or reclamation, and uses reasonably incident thereto" - which would prohibit the government from levying any royalty or other fee on mining operations.  

      Section 6203 throws open whole new areas of the public domain that can be claimed by mining companies without regard to the value of these lands for mining or other uses.  The provision allows the Secretary to approve a plan of operations without a "mineral examination report" for proposed mines in areas withdrawn from mining by Congress or federal land management agencies if there are already patented or unpatented claims contiguous to such areas where mining activities have occurred.  The main reason our public lands are withdrawn from mining activity is to sustain the outstanding resource values these lands support.  This provision allows mining companies to mine in protected areas without regard to the public benefit that is served.

      Section 6204 is yet another way to sell off our National heritage.  This provision requires the Secretary of the Interior to sell claimed "mineral deposits" on public lands for $1,000 per acre.  During mark-up on October 26, the House Resources Committee exempted some - but not all - national interest lands from this and other provisions of Subtitle B.  The areas exempted included: National Park System units; National Wildlife Refuge System unit; designated Wilderness Areas; National Monuments; Wild and Scenic Rivers; National and Historic Trails; and National Conservation Areas.  However, the Committee did not exempt millions of acres of sensitive public lands from mineral deposit sales.  This section also allows anyone who holds mining claims or mill sites where mineral development has been performed, as authorized by law or regulation, to purchase those lands.  It also absolves the government of any liability concerning lands that are made private by this section and allows the U.S. government to not disclose or investigate the condition of the property before it is conveyed.  

      Section 6206 orders the Secretary of the Interior to issue final regulations to implement this subtitle (Subtitle B - Miscellaneous Amendments Related to Mining) within 180 days of the passing of this act.  


      -9.0,-5.54 A real soldier died in his Hummer so you could play soldier in yours.

      by environmentalist on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 02:52:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm still confused (none)
        National Forests fall under the jurisdiction of the Dept of Agriculture, so how can the Dept of the Interior, which doesn't control them, sell them off? Is there a loophole in existing federal law that makes this possible, or would this bill have created such a loophole?

        One thing that people should realize is that while the federal government controls all public land, this land is divided into various legal categories and falls under the control of various different departments. Even the Dept of Defense arguably controls land that could be considered to be "wilderness", e.g. the vast testing ranges out west that are off-limits to the public. And thus different laws and rules apply to different public lands with respect to their ability to be sold off or leased out to private interests.

        For example, the Dept of Agriculture generates revenue for the government by leasing logging rights on National Forests to timber companies. But the Dept of the Interior cannot do the same with National Parks, which it controls.

        Anyway, I'm just wondering if this bill would have changed these laws in a fundamental way so that, effectively, all federally-held public land could be sold or leased without consideration for which Dept they fell under?

  •  C'mon red state Kossarians (none)
    Call those Senators. Particularly out in mountain-land.

    Amendment IX: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    by justme on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 03:07:58 PM PST

    •  Pearce in NM (none)
      He's been anti-environment big time.  Even though this awful budget crap is now on hold, I'll be calling his office tomorrow to see what excuse they hand out this time. New Mexicans would be well-served to dump this guy in '06.
  •  your best friend (none)
    is a fucking nut job.
  •  would this include forests in (none)
    upstate ny and PA?

    Filing a mining claim and you might end up with a nice place in the Adirondecks?

    SOCIAL SECURITY: Invented by Democrats yesterday, Protected by Democrats today

    by mollyd on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 04:40:34 PM PST

    •  I found the following map (none)

      from this website with good information.

      If the information on this site is complete, it's basicly only stuff west of the 100th meridian.

      Considering the map, it's not going to be easy to get Harry Reid to stand up against this one.  Most of Nevada "public lands" don't exactly have quiet title, due to active land claims from the indigneous Western Shoshone.  He, and the whole Nevada delegation, have been trying to ram a 5 cents per acre "land settlement" down their throat.  They've been working riders for exemptions to 1872 mining act for quite some time.

      Map below shows lands at issue in the land claims, and here's a link to Western Shoshone Defense Project, who are in the middle of all this.  Also please note that if it were a separate country, Nevada would be the second largest gold producer in the world.  More on gold-related issues from the No Dirty Gold campaign's website.

      I really need to diary on this stuff.  Probably over the weekend.  In the middle of preparing this post, I got polled on the phone.  Extensively, and I took notes.  I want to diary the whole questionaire.  That's for tomorrow.  Yipes!  Too much going on!!

      •  I'd love to see a post on this. (none)
        Are you in NM too?  I'm in Taos.

        -9.0,-5.54 A real soldier died in his Hummer so you could play soldier in yours.

        by environmentalist on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 12:27:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Follow the link a few messages down (none)
          I posted on it a few hours before your diary went up.  I'm working on a diary about BG issues, explaining 1872, going into Tancredo's HR 3855, some facts about gold and whatever related topics come to mind.

          This one isn't going to go away right away.  In fact, if the Repubs have any anxieties about losing control of Congress next year, efforts for this sort of giveaway will escalate.  Kind of like Hydra, the multi-headed regenerating monster of Greek mythology.  Or like Ahnold in the first Terminator movie, for those that like more recent versions of the old legends.

          So, getting up the BG seems useful.  As this continues to come up, it can be linked to for reference.  I'm aiming to post in Sunday morning.  I haven't figured out the timing on diaries.  And being new to Kos, I don't have any name recognition to help get it noticed.  It'll be information-rich, with maps, charts, illustrations, quotes and links.  I've already worked out the poll to go with it, except a need to check out a few numbers for one of the choices.

          Got any thoughts on what to include?  Or about timing of the post?

  •  Richard Pombo (none)
    I sure figured that God would have opened up His can of whoopass (speaking of divine wrath) on Pombo by now. He must be waiting for something really big.
  •  I guess the GOP corporate whores really are trying (none)
    to get all that they can before 2006 because everything that they are doing lately is pissing off so many people they won't be back in power again for a long long time.  

    Reality is just... a point of view - Philip K. Dick; Beautiful thing, the destruction of words. (from Orwell's 1984)

    by LionelEHutz on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 05:03:44 PM PST

  •  I posted on this topic this morning (none)
    'm in too big a hurry to read and reply now, so I'll just link to show two maps for now of relevance.  Scroll down to the second message for the second map.  I added it as a P.S.

    I was thinking about doing a diary on this topic myself, but now it's covered before I had time to get to it.  I'll have time to participate later tonight.

  •  This a little tangential (none)
    But did anyone catch the piece NPR did on Pombo a few weeks back?  I missed it but the promo sounded like it was going to be a real softball piece with lots of the usual sentimental shit about Pombo and his boyhood on the ranch and how much he LUVS the land and the critters and the environment.

    Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, "Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."

    by Event Horizon on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 08:50:41 PM PST

    •  Repub efforts to redirect NPR are starting to show (none)
      I've started to notice real shifts, and am finding their news coverage less and less interesting.  Add to that:  We've just gotten a new station that carries Air America in the last coupla weeks, and what I listen to in the car has changed.
      •  NPR (none)
        I've seen this too.  I think Chris Mooney is going to be on their Science Friday show today though to talk about his book "The Republican War on Science".  Wonder if they'll have a "fair and balanced" message after that though to tell people how the Pugs just LUVS the sciences.  Yeah, like Pombo LUVS the land.

        Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, "Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."

        by Event Horizon on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 05:30:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Environmentalist (none)
    Thanks for this!  

    So...do the Repubs really want to maintain power?  I'm begining to believe no, because if shit like this gets passed through, the Repubs are pretty much toast.  And why oh why are their scandal and corrupt covered asses getting away with this crap?

    "Im not afraid of storms, for I'm learning to sail my ship." - Louisa May Alcott

    by smugbug on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 11:03:06 PM PST

  •  Sell the White House to Corporate America (none)
    Oh that's right, they already did.

    "Let him that would move the world first move himself." --Socrates

    by joanneleon on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 03:28:22 AM PST

  •  "Big Yellow Taxi" (none)
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot
    With a pink hotel, a boutique
    And a swinging hot SPOT
    Don't it always seem to go
    That you don't know what you've got
    `Til it's gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot

    They took all the trees
    And put them in a tree museum
    And they charged the people
    A dollar and a half just to seem 'em
    Don't it always seem to go,
    That you don't know what you've got
    `Til it's gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot

    Hey farmer, farmer
    Put away that DDT now
    Give me spots on my apples
    But LEAVE me the birds and the bees
    Please!
    Don't it always seem to go
    That you don't know what you've got
    `Til its gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot

    Late last night
    I heard the screen door slam
    And a big yellow taxi
    Took away my old man
    Don't it always seem to go
    That you don't know what you've got
    `Til it's gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot

    I said
    Don't it always seem to go
    That you don't know what you've got
    `Til it's gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot

    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot



    --  Joni Mitchell

    "Let him that would move the world first move himself." --Socrates

    by joanneleon on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 03:52:14 AM PST

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