|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||October 25, 2005|
|Contact:||Craig Obey, NPCA, cell: 202-669-9689|
Rep. Pombo Seeks to Open National Parks to Mining
Despite assurances that the House Resources Committee reconciliation package proposed by Chairman Richard Pombo (R-11-CA) would not make any national park lands available for sale, a new draft would do just that.
Section 6204 (b) of the legislation now under consideration by the committee states, “notwithstanding any provision in law the Secretary of the Interior shall make mineral deposits and lands that contain them, including lands in which the valuable mineral deposit has been depleted, available for purchase to facilitate sustainable economic development.”
By including this alarming provision in his new proposed reconciliation legislation, Chairman Pombo has shifted his focus from selling off 15 national park sites to offering the mining industry access to national parklands in approximately 12 states that have mineral deposits. The bill would also offer for sale several parcels of parkland in Washington, D.C.
For example, while Canadian mining companies recently agreed not to mine for gold outside of Yellowstone National Park, this language would appear to allow those same companies to now seek the right to mine inside the park. Mining could also resume at Death Valley National Park in California, which was closed to new mining claims nearly 20 years ago with the passage of federal legislation designed to protect parklands. Hundreds of acres of mining claims bought out by the National Park Service in an effort to preserve Denali National Park during the past 25 years would now have to be made available for potential development.
Chairman Pombo has effectively put a big FOR SALE sign on America’s heritage. We call on Chairman Pombo to repudiate this proposal and any other effort to commercialize America’s National Park System.
Two weeks ago, legislation drafted by the House Resources Committee was leaked to the media and revealed to contain damaging proposals to sell 15 national parks and commercialize the park system.