Yellowstone bill gets House hearing

Everyone agreed at today’s House hearing: Yellowstone is more valuable than gold.

A bill introduced by Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) last year to keep gold mining off of some 30,000 acres of our public lands at Yellowstone’s gateway had a largely supportive hearing today in a House subcommittee. We welcome this step for the bill, which is a companion to the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) earlier last year.

 Colin Davis, the owner of Chico Hot Springs resort in Montana, testifies at today’s hearing. Davis is a founding member of the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition, a group of 400+ business owners that oppose risky mines next to Yellowstone. (Photo GYC.)

Colin Davis, the owner of Chico Hot Springs resort in Montana, testifies at today’s hearing. Davis is a founding member of the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition, a group of 400+ business owners that oppose risky mines next to Yellowstone. (Photo GYC.)

We were pleased to hear supportive comments from House members of both parties. Rep. Gianforte called his own bill “a common-sense bill” and added that it has the near-unanimous support of the local community. Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) said: “This is one we should be able to move quickly out of this committee.”

So what’s next for this bill? We’d like to see two things happen this summer. One, we’d like to see Ranking Member Lowenthal be proved right, and the bill move out of the House committee. Two, Montana Sen. Steve Daines has to step up and make good on his recent pledge to move the bill out of his Senate committee by August. Passing this bill really depends on Sen. Daines. We’ll be eagerly watching his next moves to protect Yellowstone, the Yellowstone River, and the local jobs that depend on both.

-- Caroline Byrd, Executive Director