Not what we asked for: Sen. Daines demands ransom to protect Yellowstone

Montana's junior senator this week unveiled a bill that not only sabotages Montana's wild lands, but he also hinted that this poison pill would be the ransom for passing a widely supported bill that would keep two proposed gold mines away from Yellowstone National Park.

This is nonsense. Sen. Steve Daines's bill strips protections from nearly 450,000 acres of Montana wilderness study areas and is supported by a small handful of the usual suspects, including the mining industry. These are some of the last pristine lands in the state. The Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, which protects just 30,000 acres from gold mining, was introduced earlier this year by Montana Sen. Jon Tester and is supported by more than 400 local business owners, the local county commission, other local elected officials, and people throughout southwest Montana. We don't see a quid pro quo here. 

And we didn't ask for this. Rather, for the past six months, the 400 local business owners in the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition have been asking Sen. Daines to support our bill. He hasn't done that. What he has done is introduce a bill that none of us asked for, and he's told the press that his bill is the "path forward" for protecting Yellowstone.  

We don't buy that. The Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act has broad bipartisan support in Montana. If Sen. Daines gets behind it, it will pass.

We call on Sen. Daines to support this popular bill protecting Yellowstone, and to stop asking for a ransom to do it. You can help. Please call Sen. Daines at 1-855-297-9453 and tell him you oppose his bill stripping protection from nearly a half-million acres of wild Montana lands.

-- Scott Christensen, Conservation Director