"A congressman who wants to drill in the gulf and weaken the Endangered Species Act offers another bill that puts treasured land at risk of development.
St. Petersburg Times Editorial
November 22, 2005
"It could be the biggest land scam ever... A bill by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., would allow anyone to claim ownership of public land for as little as $1,000 an acre under the guise of mining it. Instead of digging for gold, however, the owner could develop the land. Millions of acres are at risk, often near the nation's most treasured natural areas. Not only would taxpayers lose the use of their land, they would also subsidize the purchase."
"The House has ALREADY APPROVED the measure - which alters an antiquated mining law - even though some representatives probably didn't know what they were voting on because it was hidden in a budget bill. For Pombo, this completes his land-grab trifecta. He is also pushing to open Florida's Gulf Coast to offshore drilling and to allow private land protected under the Endangered Species Act to be developed with little federal interference."
"While the mining law has been used to rip off taxpayers for more than a century, Pombo's version would make it even worse. Since 1872, mining interests could claim ownership of public land for the purpose of extracting minerals at little cost. It led to abuses such as the mining company that extracted $10-billion worth of gold ...that cost a mere $10,000 ... Congress put a moratorium on the practice in 1994. Pombo's bill would not only end the moratorium, but make it easier to claim land with no intention to mine. Under the bill's language, anyone could acquire public land for as little as $1,000 per acre and use it for "sustainable economic development." Opponents of the bill say that could be defined as condominiums, ski resorts or casinos."