GeoCarta Has Moved

Dec 19, 2005

Controversial Land Bill Dropped For Now

A controversial amendment to a budget bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month that would have opened up more of the public lands for sale has been dropped. The measure was dropped from the budget bill because Senate rules precluded considering the amendment.

Critics of the measure had said that the provision would have allowed the purchase of massive amounts of public land for as little as $1,000 an acre. The amendment was opposed by communities in areas such as Colorado and Oregon, that depend on tourists that visit attractions on public lands.

As previously posted, proponents of the measure argued that the amount of land that would be sold would be small and that placing such land in private hands would improve the economic health of local governments. The U.S. government owns a huge amount of land in the western states -- land it pays no property tax on.

The issue appears far from settled however. As reported by MSNBC, Representative Jim Gibbons, (R-NV) the author of the amendment, vowed to try and pass similar legislation in the future. "While I am disappointed that procedural rules in the Senate will prevent us from moving forward with these provisions in the budget reconciliation process, I remain committed to modernizing the mining law to meet our 21st century needs," he was quoted as saying.