Controversial mining-law revisions dropped from budget bill

You might think we could take it for granted that millions of acres of national parks, forests, and other federal lands won’t be sold off to developers, but these days, it’s worthy of celebration: Late yesterday, struggling to pass a big budget bill before the holiday break, Republicans in Congress withdrew a provision to revamp federal mining law that conservationists feared could push prime public land into private hands. GOP leaders bowed to bipartisan opposition from key Western senators, who threatened to torpedo the entire budget package. The House was under pressure as well — a coalition of about 55 million hunters and anglers sent letters opposing the provisions to key representatives on Tuesday. Public-lands and outdoor-sports advocates are expressing relief that the measure is off the table — at least for now. Says Death Valley National Park Superintendent J.T. Reynolds, “It’s a welcome stay of execution.”