U.S. Senate Begins Debate on Tester’s Landmark Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act
Tester is the only member of the Montana delegation who has pushed to fully fund Land and Water Conservation Fund, vote against $16 million in cuts
(U.S. Senate)-The U.S. Senate today began debate on Senator Jon Tester's landmark bill to protect the doorstep of Yellowstone Park from large-scale mining.
Tester's Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act is included in the public lands legislative package currently before the Senate. The bill will permanently protect 30,000 acres of the Custer Gallatin National Forest by withdrawing federal mineral rights and eliminating the ability of proposed mines to expand onto unclaimed public land.
"The businesses and families in the Paradise Valley have made their voices heard," Tester said. "This bipartisan bill is a made-in-Montana solution that will boost our outdoor economy and protect the gateway to our nation's first national park for future generations."
Tester has been working with local residents and business owners to build collaborative legislation that prevents mines from expanding onto public lands in the region since 2015.
The public lands package also includes Tester-backed legislation to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Tester is the only member of the Montana delegation who has consistently fought to reauthorize and fully-fund the popular initiative that Montanans use to increase public access to public lands. Tester was also the only member of the Montana delegation to oppose legislation to cut $16 million from LWCF last year.
As debate begins on the legislative lands package, Tester is taking his fight to strengthen public lands a step further by sponsoring legislation to fully fund LWCF at over $900 million annually.
"Montanans use LWCF to expand public access to our treasured public lands," Tester added. "But where the rubber meets the road, it has been underfunded for over 50 years. Now is the time to give hunters, anglers, hikers, and bikers long-term certainty and fully-fund this successful initiative."
Funded through offshore oil and gas development revenue, LWCF expands public access to public lands at no cost to taxpayers. The successful initiative is authorized to receive over $900 million annually, but the Trump Administration has fought to slash LWCF funding to just $8 million a year.
LWCF has invested a total of $540 million to support outdoor recreation in Montana since it was established 53 years ago.
The legislative lands package is expected to receive a final vote in the Senate later this week.
A timeline of Tester's efforts on the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act is below.
October 14, 2015
Tester meets with Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition about the need for legislation to prevent proposed mines on the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park.
October 13, 2016
Tester tells the Obama Administration he's crafting legislation to prevent mining on the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park.
November 21, 2016
Tester joins Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to announce two-year ban on mining in the Paradise Valley, reiterates his plan to introduce legislation.
January 10, 2017
Tester meets with Trump's Interior Secretary nominee Ryan Zinke, specifically asks about his position on this issue.
April 25, 2017
Tester introduces the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.
July 18, 2017
Tester secures Senate hearing for the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.
July 26, 2017
Tester testifies at Senate hearing on behalf of his Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.
December 14, 2017
Congressman Greg Gianforte introduces companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
March 28, 2018
Tester holds rally in support of the bill after Republicans refuse to include it in their end of year funding package.
June 28, 2018
Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act receives House hearing.
September 27, 2018
House Committee passes Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.
October 2, 2018
Senate Committee passes Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.
October 4, 2018
Tester calls on Secretary Zinke to implement Forest Service-recommended ban on mining outside Yellowstone National Park.
October 8, 2018
Tester on 20-year ban: "it's only a temporary solution."
December 18, 2018
Senator Steve Daines co-sponsors the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.
December 20, 2018
Tester secures guarantee that the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act will receive a vote in early 2019.
January 8, 2019
Tester reintroduces the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act in the 116th Congress.