Montana lawmakers cheer recommendation to ban mining north of Yellowstone

Montana lawmakers cheer recommendation to ban mining north of Yellowstone
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Forest Service officials are advising the Trump administration to extend a current ban on mining in thousands of acres just north of Yellowstone National Park, a recommendation being cheered by Montana lawmakers.

Regional forester Leanne Marten sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeAlaska oil and gas lease sale nets .5 million Former Koch adviser to oversee Interior Department's FOIA requests The Year Ahead: Dems under pressure to deliver on green agenda MORE Friday asking the Interior Department to withdraw all mining rights on the 30,000 acres of land for 20 years.

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The Obama administration in 2016 first ordered a two-year moratorium for drilling in the area located in the mountains just east of the Paradise Valley.  A number of mining companies have surveyed the region for potential gold mining.

In a statement, Zinke, who will make the final call on adopting the recommendations, said he’s always “fought for the protection” of the region since he was a Montana congressman.

"I've always said there are places where it is appropriate to mine and places where it isn't. The Paradise Valley is one of those unique places...and now the Department is looking at finalizing the withdrawal in the coming weeks,” Zinke said.

Montana’s current congressional delegation is also championing the recommendation.

“The Paradise Valley and Gardner Basin are truly special places that deserve protection,” Montana Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesOvernight Health Care: Senators urge vote on delaying health insurance tax | Joe Kennedy III 'hopeful' he can back 'Medicare for all' bill | Latest Ebola outbreak becomes world's 2nd-worst Overnight Defense: Senate rebukes Trump with Yemen vote | Mattis, Pompeo briefing fails to quell Senate concerns with Saudis | Graham demands CIA briefing on Khashoggi | Pentagon identifies three troops killed in Afghanistan Senate GOP presses Trump to move on new NAFTA deal before Dems take over House MORE (R) said in a statement.

“After an extensive process and public input, I’m glad to see that the Forest Service listened to the voices of the residents and is recommending this withdrawal.”

And Montana Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard Gianforte'Murphy Brown' episode focuses on assault of reporter at Trump rally Montana New Members 2019 Gianforte defeats Democrat for Montana's at-large congressional seat MORE (R) is also supportive of the move. He and Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate votes to overturn IRS guidance limiting donor disclosure Senate confirms Trump's pick to be deputy Treasury secretary O’Rourke is fireball, but not all Dems are sold MORE (D-Mont.) previously introduced legislation that would make the mining ban permanent.

In a statement Friday, Tester called the Forest Service's recommendation a acknowledgement of his plan.

"Today's news is a positive step forward, but we must not rest on our laurels. The entire delegation must throw their full support behind our bill, which permanently protects the region's economy for future generations,” Tester said in a statement.

Tester is facing a tough re-election race this fall, one of 10 Democratic senators up for a vote in a state won by President TrumpDonald John TrumpActivists highlight Trump ties to foreign autocrats in hotel light display Jose Canseco pitches Trump for chief of staff: ‘Worried about you looking more like a Twinkie everyday’ Dershowitz: Mueller's report will contain 'sins' but no 'impeachable offense' MORE.