|OUR NATION'S PARKS|
A Forum with Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt
May 23, 1997
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Questions Sec. Babbitt answered in this forum:
Should cars be banned from national parks? How should forest fires be handled? Why are visits to the Grand Teton or the Grand Canyon so expensive? Does the federal government give mining companies sweetheart deals? Could special tax incentives provide money for the parks? Does the federal government promote clearcutting forests? What was Sec. Babbitt's best experience being part of a National Park Service firefighter? Viewer Comments
March 9, 1997:
Interesting coalitions have developed around the fight for rights to the water flowing down the Animus and the La Plata rivers in Colorado.
March 3, 1997:
Spencer Michels reports on efforts to rebuilt Yosemite National Parks after this year's devastating floods.
April 30, 1996:
Tom Bearden reports on efforts to restore the Colorado River's eco-system by flooding it.
Browse the NewsHour's index of environmental issues.
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Interior Sec. Bruce Babbitt
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Jerry Becker of Goleta, CA, asks:
What's the deal with the mining companies? How come they are given the sweetheart deals on National Park lands? This makes me very angry, and I'm a Reagan Republican, for crying out loud!
Secretary Babbitt responds:
Jerry, I salute you, and all the like-minded Republicans who agree that the 1972 Mining Law deserves to be in a glass case in a museum. I've tried for four years now to get Congress to reform this turkey of a law, but so far we've come up short. Under this ridiculous throwback, I have to give away public lands for $5 an acre or less to wealthy mining companies, some of which are foreign-owned, and none of which has to pay a dime in royalties on the public assets they mine from the land. The mining companies get the gold, I'm fond of saying, and the taxpayers get the shaft.
This is not a partisan issue. There are many Republican leaders that agree with me on this one--House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich included. But the mining companies, God bless them, keep winning close votes in Congress to keep the old law on the books. I just had a press conference last week to celebrate the law's 125th birthday.
Ill never stop fighting this one. It's stupid. It's ridiculous. And some day, all of us Democrats and Republicans who have been fighting for reform are going to have a funeral for this law. It should rest in peace.
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