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house Bill H.R. 823

Should 200k Acres of Federal Land in Colorado be Withdrawn From Mining Uses?

Argument in favor

Colorado’s public lands are integral to the state’s identity, economy, and commitment to sustainability. This bill would protect these important resources and ensure that they aren’t overrun by mining, mineral, and geothermal leasing interests.

burrkitty's Opinion
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10/31/2019
I am all for protecting our public lands from devastation by extraction.
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thedocta's Opinion
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10/31/2019
We need to protect as much land as possible from mining and deforestation entities.
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Jeffrey's Opinion
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10/31/2019
Keep federal land away from developers. This is the people’s land.
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Argument opposed

This bill is too extreme, and would overly restrict motorized recreation use of public lands. By taking so much land away from mining and mineral uses, this bill would also hurt Colorado’s economy. Finally, this bill isn’t supported by Colorado residents themselves — so it shouldn’t be enacted over locals’ wishes.

Kathryn's Opinion
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10/31/2019
You can’t pave paradise. Leave Mother Nature alone!
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BradHolt's Opinion
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10/31/2019
We need to protect our land, not suck it dry.
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Allison 's Opinion
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11/01/2019
Raping the land given us as stewards by the Creator of the universe for capitalistic endeavors is poor stewardship. You are scaring our planet and it’s magnificent beauty. “God always forgives, we men forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives. If you give her a slap, she will give you one.” “Our common home is being pillaged, laid waste and harmed with impunity. Cowardice in defending it is a grave sin.” ~Pope Francis We have it on loan for future generations. “Only when the last tree has died,? the last river been poisoned,? and the last fish been caught? will we realize we cannot eat money.” ~ Native American Proverb Please discontinue your efforts to harm the environment for profit and focus on creating new jobs in the renewable energy sector. Kind regards, Allison St. Claire
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • The house Passed October 31st, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 227 Yea / 182 Nay
      house Committees
      National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands
      Committee on Natural Resources
      Energy and Mineral Resources
    IntroducedJanuary 28th, 2019

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What is House Bill H.R. 823?

This bill — the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act — would designate roughly 200,000 acres of federal land in Colorado for wilderness, recreation, historic preservation, or conservation purposes. It would withdraw those areas, along with lands in the Naturita Canyon and Thompson Divide in Colorado, from entry under hardrock mining laws and mineral and geothermal leasing. This would mean that new hardrock mining claims or mineral and geothermal leases on that land wouldn’t be allowed. Some land designed under this bill would also be withdrawn from availability for timber production.

Additionally, this bill would authorize the appropriation of $10 million for the Forest Service to conduct historic interpretation, preservation, and restoration activities at the proposed Camp Hale National Historic Landscape in Eagle County, Colorado. It would also direct the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to establish a pilot program to capture and lease out or destroy methane emissions in the Greater Thompson Divide region.

Impact

Colorado; federal land in Colorado; mining, mineral, and geothermal projects in Colorado; Naturita Canyon; Thompson Divide; Camp Hale National Historic Landscape; and the BLM.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 823

$19.00 Million
The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost $19 million over the 2020-2024 period.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) introduced this bill to conserve about 400,000 acres of public lands across the state of Colorado:

“I’m proud that the CORE Act was crafted by Coloradans over a decade of collaboration. This bill comes with input from our local elected officials, outdoor recreation businesses, conservation groups, ranchers and sportsm[e]n. Public lands are who we are as Coloradans, they are rooted at the foundation of our state’s economy, they inspire our commitment to sustainability and define our state’s character and I’m grateful to be able to work with community members from across our great state on this bill to preserve and invest in Colorado’s precious public lands.” 

After this bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee by a 23-15 vote, Rep. Neguse said

“I’m proud to champion this legislation, along with Senator Michael Bennet, that truly was crafted by Coloradans. This legislation has broad local support from counties and towns across the state, as well as support from the outdoor recreation industry, sportsmen, ranchers and conservationists. The CORE Act provides a bold vision and permanent investment in the public lands that fuel our economy and I’m excited to see it head to the House floor for a full vote.”

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), sponsor of this bill’s Senate companion, says

“Coloradans spent the last decade hammering out compromises to develop reasonable public lands bills with broad support. The CORE Act combines the best of those proposals, reflecting their bold vision to boost our economy and protect our public lands for future generations. Because of this inclusive approach, the CORE Act creates new wilderness areas and preserves outdoor recreation opportunities, so Coloradans can continue to explore the outdoors. Colorado has waited too long for Congress to act on their earlier proposals, but the CORE Act presents a new opportunity to make real progress for our state. I’m looking forward to working with Congressman Neguse to move the CORE Act forward.”

Colorado Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat who championed this bill’s provisions as a in Congress before he was elected governor, supports this bill. After its committee passage, he said

“I am thrilled to see the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act pass the House Natural Resources Committee today. As a Congressman, I was proud to champion the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act with Senator Bennet. The CORE Act incorporates this legislation into a robust public lands package that preserves new wilderness areas and new recreation and conservation management areas across the state. I commend Congressman Neguse on his efforts to move a bill that is so important for Colorado’s outdoors, our economy and to celebrate our military heritage.”

The American Alpine Club (AAC) supports this bill: 

“The AAC strongly supports the protections embodied in the CORE Act. The Bill conserves outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities, safeguards water resources, preserves key public lands and complements the values associated with our state lands. This legislation places a high value on recreation and conservation, and supports the $28.0 Billion outdoor recreation economy in Colorado and the 229,000 jobs associated with it.”

House Natural Resources Committee Republicans expressed this opposition to this bill in the final committee report. In their dissenting views, they cited “drastic reduction of areas open for motorized recreation use,” economic concerns, and “significant opposition to this bill from many Colorado stakeholders”: 

“Among the primary criticisms of this legislation is the drastic reduction of areas open for motorized recreation use. The bill offers only 28,000 acres for motorized access versus the roughly 400,000 acres of new wilderness and closures. Rural county commissioners have also raised economic concerns about the areas this bill will remove from multiple-use designation. Instead of a legislative mineral lease exchange, which is supported by  the impacted county and would enable energy companies to develop federal minerals in other areas, this bill offers a blanket mineral withdrawal in the Thompson Divide area with zero compromise. Finally, in a State with significant wildfire risk, this bill would further reduce acres that have been identified as suitable for forest management by approximately 8,000 acres. Of most concern to us, is that, contrary to the claims of [s]tatewide consensus made by the sponsors of this legislation, there is significant opposition to this bill from many Colorado stakeholders. Further, this bill does not have the support of any of the Republican members of the Colorado delegation.”

Committee Republicans also objected to the process by which this bill was marked up and the rejection of their proposed amendments: 

“[L]ack of engagement [with Republican members] continued during the markup of [this bill] where several amendments offered by Republicans seeking to address major flaws in the bill were rejected on largely party line votes. Among these was an amendment offered by Congressman Doug Lamborn that would have ensured that the important military readiness training conducted at the High Altitude Aviation Training Site in Colorado would not be adversely impacted by this legislation. Also offered at the markup were amendments requiring engagement with an impacted county, the removal of impacted lands in Congressman Tipton's district, and the removal of wilderness designations for lands that do not meet Wilderness Act criteria. All of these amendments were rejected by Committee Democrats, and the legislation advanced without a single Republican vote which bodes ill for its progress in the Senate. If the bill sponsor wants this legislation to serve as anything more than a partisan messaging bill, some long-overdue outreach and genuine efforts at a bi-partisan consensus by the sponsors need to take place.”

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) pushed back against Committee Republicans’ objections. In response to Republicans’ claims that Rep. Neguse didn’t seek stakeholders’ buy-in to this bill, she countered that he sought to find consensus from agriculture, mineral, fishing, hunting, farmers and outdoor recreationists. She argued that while Colorado loves the outdoors, “we’re loving it to death in many ways[,] and that’s why it’s so important that we consider bills like this legislation to promote outdoor activity and also promote preservation of appropriate activity in appropriate places.”

The Trump administration has threatened to veto this bill. In an October 28, 2019 statement of administration policy, it said: 

"The Administration has pledged to expand access to America’s public lands, increase hunting, fishing, and recreational opportunities nationwide, and enhance conservation stewardship. [This bill], however, would not achieve these goals in a balanced way, and the Administration opposes it as currently drafted. The Administration is committed to managing public lands as a good neighbor to the local communities and to the Americans who live and work in close proximity to them. Engaging local stakeholders and considering their on-the-ground expertise are critical steps in making decisions about public lands management. Rural communities have raised concerns that the land-use restrictions included in [this bill] would have negative effects on local economies, and, as evidenced by the committee process, it appears that local sentiment has not been adequately taken into account when developing this bill. The Administration, therefore, opposes [this bill] in its current form."

This legislation passed the House Committee on Natural Resources by a 23-15 vote with the support of three Democratic House cosponsors. Its Senate companion is sponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO).

Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Vet Voice Foundation, a number of outdoor gear companies (including Osprey Packs, The North Face, and Icelantic Skis), a number of outdoor recreation and sports organizations (including Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and Trout Unlimited), and conservation organizations (including The WIlderness Society and the National Parks Conservation Association) support this bill.

Garfield County, lntermountain Forest Association, Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO), Colorado Snowmobile Association, and the Trails Preservation Alliance oppose this bill.


Of NoteOf the land protected under this bill, about 73,000 acres are new wilderness areas and nearly 80,000 acres are new recreation and conservation management areas that preserve existing outdoor uses, such as hiking and mountain biking. 

If successful, this bill would be the first statewide Colorado wilderness legislation to pass Congress in over a decade. Commenting on that fact, Rep. Neguse says, “Coloradans have been waiting for over 10 years for Congress to act to preserve the lands they love.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Ron and Patty Thomas)

AKA

Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act

Official Title

To provide for the designation of certain wilderness areas, recreation management areas, and conservation areas in the State of Colorado, and for other purposes.

    I am all for protecting our public lands from devastation by extraction.
    Like (73)
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    You can’t pave paradise. Leave Mother Nature alone!
    Like (8)
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    We need to protect as much land as possible from mining and deforestation entities.
    Like (62)
    Follow
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    Keep federal land away from developers. This is the people’s land.
    Like (51)
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    I’m all for protecting as much of our lands as possible. Once we use their resources up, we’ve destroyed the land & there’s no going back. Protection now is the key!
    Like (23)
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    Now more than ever, conservation is paramount. Greedy industrialists are actively ruining the planet with no thought for the people who inhabit it. We need to protect and care for this land so that it can last for generations to come as a great nation and not a plundered husk.
    Like (16)
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    As a farmer, my dad told me, “once you destroy the land, you lose it forever.” Let’s work toward sustainable energy. Every little bit helps.
    Like (15)
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    For some reason I don’t understand our government has given mining corporations Carte Blanche to destroy our eco systems and destroy our land with toxic craters!! That is horrifyingly wrong!! But our country in Appalachia, for example , has created a dismal economy full of sick people and opioid addiction!! Oklahoma is riddled with sink holes, daily tremors resulting from fracking!! Our government must represent our needs not just the pockets of billionaires!! We need laws that protect our lands from mining and fracking as well as hold the corporations that do so. Responsible for restoration and damages to affected communities!!
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    We are in a critical moment for ensuring the earth will be a good home for our children and grandchildren. If we can learn to recycle, reuse, and restore rather than continually destroying our birthright, we can save it. If not, the future is bleak.
    Like (9)
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    Since 45 had sunken take land away from Bear claw and a few other parks by all means YES! these should be put back and provide them for families for generations to come it we don’t destroy our climate first!!
    Like (8)
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    Colorado is already deeply damaged from irresponsible mining and fracking. Protecting these lands is a great step towards halting the senseless corporate greed and pollution that has poisoned our state.
    Like (7)
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    This should be a state issue.
    Like (7)
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    We must protect our land from drilling and mining.
    Like (7)
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    All federal land, parks must be protected from drilling / mining.
    Like (6)
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    Because coal is never clean energy. Mining contaminates the environment and is harmful to workers.
    Like (6)
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    We need more protection of our public lands, not less.
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    Protect and defend WeThe People’s public lands! STOP PRIVATE development by CORPORATIONS who ARE NOT PEOPLE! Wrong for Montana Rep Gianforte to vote Nay! Get him out of Montana House of Rep! Vote Kathleen Williams 2020! She respects our Public Lands and the people’s right to keep this land PUBLIC and not exploit by private industry!
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    It's time we quit stripping the earth of it's natural resources. The earth’s resources are finite, so once we've used them all...thats it! Nothing left for the future!
    Like (5)
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    Why would federal lands be mined in the first place? Are we literally trying to ruin each and every parcel of land we have?
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    We need to protect our land, not suck it dry.
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