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Legislative and Regulatory Update

Massive 660-page lands bill passed in the Senate
Senate Bill 47 (S47), the Natural Resources Management Act, introduced by Senator Murkowski (R-Alaska), was chock full of land conveyances, mineral withdrawals, park boundary adjustments, and gifts to various Senators to get their support. Our biggest concern is that it included permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is the primary vehicle used by the federal government to place more public lands off-limits to mining.

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced an amendment in an attempt to limit authorization of the LWCF to a period of four years.

In support of the LWCF limits, Senator Lee stated, “...the program has regrettably drifted far from its original intent and has become rife with abuse.

“Indeed, the Land and Water Conservation Fund—or LWCF, as it is often described—has instead been used as a primary tool for more Federal land acquisition rather than to actually help people access or to help the government care for the land we already manage.”

Senator Lee also noted the federal government currently administers 640 million acres and there is an $18.5 billion maintenance backlog on federal lands.

Senator Lee’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 68 to 30.

S47 received a full, recorded vote on February 12, and it passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 92-8. The eight Senators who voted against the bill were Cruz (R-TX), Inhofe (R-OK), Johnson (R-WI), Lankford (R-OK), Lee (R-UT), Paul (R-KY), Sasse (R-NE), and Toomey (R-PA).

The bill now awaits consideration in the House.

© ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal, CMJ Inc.
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