Nevada Congressional delegation wants this done. Therefore we need to support them!
We need the public’s help passing this bill. (Read about the bill here.)
Become an advocate and supporter of a Lands Bill that will positively effect Northern Nevada, including: Elko, Carlin, Winnemucca, Fernley and Storey County.
Please join our campaign. By supporting all the bills, we expand our potential base and make this about more than just our self-interest. All of these bills are important, positive and have broad-based bipartisan support.
The objective is to get the word out to send a clear message to Congress to PASS THE BILL.
We also encourage you to share our links within your own social circles. We are using social media as a way to make sure the message gets to D.C.
We want to keep the message positive but forceful. We must be relentless!
A bipartisan Policy Center poll taken this month shows no change in the overwhelming consensus that U.S. politics have become more divided in recent years.
This poll says there remains an overwhelming consensus that U.S. politics have become more divided in recent years. One comment summed up the state of affairs in Congress:
“It’s the same old, same old,” said one person. “Nothing changes with these people. They get in there and all of a sudden, it’s about them and not about us.”’
The poll also reported:
“Americans have some clear ideas about what they want their representative in Congress to do:
- Vote based on what their constituents want (80%), rather than on what their own conscience and experience would dictate (17%).
- Work across party lines and be willing to compromise to devise solutions to the nation’s problems (66%), rather than stick up for principles even if it means legislation to address serious problems doesn’t pass (30%).”
We agree. The Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act is clearly stalled by philosophical battles that need to stop.
We also need to start filling the ranks of “we”.
Like this post if you agree. Share it if you want to help.
Bringing Back Yerington and Lyon County, Nevada
By Virgil Arellano, Commissioner, Lyon County, Nevada
George Dini, Mayor of Yerington
In 2009, Lyon County and the City of Yerington conceived a plan that at the time seemed an obvious, yet innovative solution. Our proposition was to transfer, through a fair market sale, 10,400 acres of BLM-administered federal lands to the City to revive our current economy and develop a long term, sustainable economic base for the City and County.
Why so obvious?
Because Yerington and Lyon County were, and still are, economically starving, and desperately in need of emergency economic relief.
When you are starving you don’t need a menu plan, you need food, and you need it fast.
And why innovative?
Because there is 10,400 acres of federal land adjacent to the City that has huge economic potential and little other current value, or potential land use or natural resources conflicts. It has a company, Nevada Copper, which has explored and discovered a major new copper deposit on this land. Conveyance of the land could expedite large scale mine development by 2-3 years. Additionally, immediate passage of our proposed legislation would increase much needed county revenues immediately, in the next two to three years that could save the county from potential fiscal collapse. It would also provide a long term platform for economic development.
We in the local community all knew that something dramatic was needed. In January of 2011 our County had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, around 19%. It had the highest foreclosure rate in the country. The unemployment rate remains at approximately 13-14%. It has had that level of unemployment for almost six years now. This is unacceptable when we have a golden opportunity before us to determine and develop our future, and address the needs for 52,000 people. The foreclosure rate has declined, but many of those homes became bank sales and many, many people remain underwater on their mortgages as the housing market recovers at a snail’s pace.
Both of us were elected in 2010 and we are determined in our efforts to turn this around and secure our county’s future. I, Virgil Arellano, born and raised in Nevada, have dedicated my life and leadership skills learned in my previous career as a firefighter to making a positive difference in my community. We are experiencing a wildfire fueled by economic drought that is destroying our economic and social well being. I, George Dini, Mayor of Yerington, have been a lifelong resident and part of a family business since 1933. We have both seen our beloved community dying from economic starvation in the last five years, indeed the last 30+ years, since the closing of the former Yerington Mine.
In 2010 we saw a ray of hope on the horizon – a proposed copper mine known as Pumpkin Hollow. The project had been explored for over 40 years, and now the stars had aligned. A combination of higher copper prices and increased copper demand, a change in ownership of the property, and a company focused and committed to development of a mine here.
The bill expedites the development of a mine that will require an initial $1 billion capital investment, $500 million in sustaining capital in the first five years of operation, 900 permanent, direct jobs, 2,000-3,000 additional indirect jobs at the local, regional and national level, annual operating expenditures in excess of $300 million and annual tax revenues of $15-20 million per year to the local community for over 20 years.
This land is within four miles of Yerington and ideally located near highways, a railroad, a community with schools, a hospital, residences, land for development and a community desperate for an economic base. We are a community with houses that need residents, schools that need students, businesses that need customers, and public services like fire, police, hospitals and recreational amenities that desperately need a tax base to support them.
We’re not asking for a federal bailout. We’re not asking for federal funding. We’re asking for the federal government to sell approximately 1% of the land that it controls in Lyon County for fair market value to allow the Yerington and Lyon County to prosper again. Additionally, this bill would provide tax revenue for to Federal coffers!!
Some of that land would be used for mine development, to start the process of economic and social recovery in this community. However, in order for our community to prosper after the mining is complete, we must also have a long term vision and look beyond tomorrow. One of the key elements of this land conveyance is to provide enough land to develop around the Pumpkin Hollow Mine that would survive after mining is complete 20-30 years from now.
Our vision now is to begin the process of developing land around the mine, where over 40% of the land will be available for other uses. Nevada Copper has invested time, effort and money in developing a working and trusting relationship with Lyon County, Yerington and its residents. The company plans to invest approximately $80 million in infrastructure – roads, water, power and wastewater treatment facilities – that can be located and designed to accommodate other industrial, commercial and recreational uses, during and after mining. Because of the investment in infrastructure, the other land uses – general business, industrial and recreation – are viable.
A win for all parties!
The Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act will provide an immediate boost to our economy – jobs, business activity and our tax base.
This land conveyance does not adversely affect anybody in Washington D.C. or any other state. It gives us in the County and Yerington the opportunity to control our own destiny.
Yerington, Lyon County and Nevada Copper worked diligently to find common ground on this proposed economic development and conservation bill. We were asked to provide an economic and conservation package that had broad local support.
The Lyon County Board of Commissioners and Yerington City Council unanimously support this bill.
The Nevada Legislature – Republicans and Democrats – unanimously passed a resolution this session supporting the bill.
The Nevada Association of Counties and Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities support the bill.
Mayors of Reno and Sparks support this bill.
The Friends of Nevada Wilderness and conservation officials support this bill.
The entire Nevada Congressional delegation – Democrats and Republicans – supports this bill including the compromise wilderness provision.
In particular, part of Lyon County is represented by Republican Congressman Mark Amodei, who has championed this legislation from the start, and the other part by Democratic Congressman Steven Horsford who made this a priority in his campaign and during his first term. We are grateful for two of the most dedicated and passionate advocates on our behalf.
Both Senator Reid and Senator Heller are sponsors and have guided us through the process to develop a sound proposal that provides both economic and conservation benefits. They have worked together to pass it out of Committee in the Senate and ready for a floor vote.
But now the clock is ticking. The bill was combined with six other northern Nevada bills in January 2014 and reported favorably out (recommended for passage) out of the House Natural Resources Committee on January 28, 2014. However, the Committee inserted new language in the Pine Forest title at the last minute that has generated some opposition to the bill. It turned a bipartisan bill into a partisan bill. As they say: “Same old, same old.”
The Pine Forest wilderness title had similarly been developed at the local level in Humboldt County and has broad local support. The last minute addition to this bill by the Chairman of the Committee, totally unrelated to the Lyon County title, now potentially delays or even derails timely passage of the Lyon County bill. There are more delays for passage in both the House and Senate. Congress simply needs to quit playing political games when the livelihoods of an entire community are at stake.
This bill has now been in development for four years. Congress seems to be in economic menu planning mode – no they’re not planning, they’re debating the menu – when what we need Congress to provide is emergency economic relief.
Congress may have big battles to fight in the coming months, but this is not one of them. All of the northern Nevada bills represent an obvious economic and conservation win for everyone. So let’s get it done before the next political battle in a string of protracted battles that has been going on for five years in Congress consumes all of their time.
We implore Congress break the gridlock and deliver on their often-repeated promise to create jobs. Fix Pine Forest and act quickly on this Northern Nevada bill.
CREATE JOBS! PASS THE BILL! PLEASE!
In Reference to: Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act
Senate Bill S. 159
House Bill H.R. 696
Now included in H.R. 433 the Northern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act
ONE YEAR AND STILL WAITING FOR ACTION
Everyone agrees that the copper mine, which would create 1,300 jobs in a highly unemployed county, is a good idea — and yet the Senate won’t pass a bill allowing it to go forward.
In Greek mythology, the gods tortured Tantalus by making him stand, thirsty, in a pool of water that was always barely out of reach.
The residents of Lyon County, Nevada, can relate. Only for them, the water is valuable copper deposits buried beneath their feet. And the gods are the members of Congress who are keeping it unavailable.
At about 14 percent, the county has the highest unemployment rate in Nevada (which, as a state, has the highest unemployment rate in the country). And the federal government is partially to blame. A copper-mining company has designs on opening a new mine in the town of Yerington that would create about 800 mining jobs, 500 construction jobs, and plenty of ancillary employment opportunities. That’s a lot of jobs in a town of 3,000. The only problem: The federal government owns the land surrounding the mine.
“This one project can probably take several points off the unemployment rate in this county,” George Dini, the mayor of Yerington, said in a telephone interview. “The community is on life support, and it gets worse every week.”
Dini has been watching with bated breath for the past 14 months as a bill that would allow the city of Yerington to buy 10,000 acres of federal land around the Pumpkin Hollow mine site for commercial, industrial, and recreational use has stalled in the Senate.
“People who are thinking about moving on ask me daily how the legislation is going,” he said. “At this point, I’m saying they should look elsewhere. We’ve been working on this bill for 14 months. I can’t keep looking them in the face and tell them it’s just going to be a few more months.”
In Nevada, this isn’t an altogether uncommon problem. In fact, the federal government owns about 86 percent of the state’s land. If Republicans are looking for tangible proof that the federal government’s involvement is hurting economic development (a common rallying cry), Yerington is a good example.
“It’s hard for the state’s economy to grow if you can’t have a larger footprint,” said Rep. Mark Amodei, the Republican who first introduced the bill early last year.
What is perhaps most frustrating to residents of Yerington is that there seem to be no objections to the bill, at least not from the Nevada delegation. The bill passed out of the House with no problem, and after the inclusion of a provision that would designate other Nevada land as protected wilderness, Senate Majority Leader and Nevada Democrat Harry Reid gave it his support in December.
Reid and his Republican counterpart, Senator Dean Heller, reintroduced the bill this year, but there is still no timeline on when it will see any action.
“We have political disagreements all the time around here, but this is not that,” Amodei said. “Here we have a land transfer for full value with no cost to the taxpayers or the government. Who is opposed to that? You know what, nobody.”
Amodei noted that the mine did not violate any National Environmental Policy Act concerns, which has been a problem for Yerington in the past.
Even though it’s not really a partisan issue, the struggles of this bill manage to elucidate the difficulties of turning a bill into a law. The bill may have had no objections, but unfortunately it never got the opportunity to be judged on its own merits. Instead, it was wrapped up with 15 other land bills in an omnibus package that was destined to die in the Senate. That larger bill included, among other things, a provision to let Border Patrol agents bypass environmental laws where they found them inconvenient, creating what Democrats called a “drone zone” through several national parks.
Things were made even harder by the fact that Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla.,was so strongly against land bills in general that he took to placing holds on them so they couldn’t be brought up for a vote.
In December, it finally seemed like the bill was making forward progress. Dini, the mayor, says Reid told him that it would happen before the end of the year. But with the fiscal cliff taking all the oxygen out of Congress, even the majority leader couldn’t make it happen for his constituents.
“I’m still new here, and even though everyone warned me about things moving slowly in the Senate, this does surprise me,” Heller said in an interview in his office. “And for my constituents, they have a good argument when they say it’s one step too many. If the federal government wasn’t involved in this process, it would have been accomplished six months ago.”
If it seems confusing to Heller, Dini says that to him and the people of Yerington, it’s “mind-boggling.”
“I don’t know if broken is the right word,” he said about Congress. “I think they’ve altered the intent of what Congress should be doing. They should be acting a lot quicker on things that are favorable to their constituents.”
The Nevada delegation agrees, and believes that something will be done quickly. But that term is relative. What’s quick for the Senate can feel like Tantalus’s eternity to an out-of-work miner.
Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act of 2013
City of Yerington, Lyon County, Nevada Copper Inc.
1. The City of Yerington proposes to purchase for fair market value approximately 10,400 acres BLM-administered federal lands.
2. As a result of the land transfer, Yerington would be able to annex those lands into the City and receive a share of property and net proceeds of mines taxes that it would not otherwise receive without the land transfer.
3. Nevada Copper will finance 100% the acquisition costs and a portion (~3,800 acres or 37%) of those lands will be retained to support development of the Pumpkin Hollow Mine.
4. A large portion of the acquired federal lands (~2,000 acres or 20%) would be available for infrastructure and additional sustainable economic development during and after mining. Upon completion of mining, most mine facilities can be converted to other uses.
5. Another portion of the acquired federal lands (~4,450 acres or 43%) would be available for recreational and open space, including ~ 800 acres for a recreational/concert events center.
6. In total, up to 63%, of the acquired federal lands would be dedicated for uses other than mining, including infrastructure, commercial and industrial development, recreation, an events-concert venue and open space.
7. Nevada Copper plans to invest $80 million in infrastructure for an integrated open pit and underground mine and processing facilities that can be utilized to support other land uses and economic development.
8. Nevada Copper has already upgraded the power line from the west side and will construct an additional power line from the east. Combined power capacity to serve the mine and other uses will be more than 100 megawatts.
9. Yerington would be able to attract other economic activity with the combined power, roads, water and sewer infrastructure that is proposed for the mine.
10. Nevada Copper controls 1,500 acres of private land surrounded by the federal lands.
11. Approximately 95% of the minerals are on private land controlled by Nevada Copper.
12. Transfer of lands would not affect any sensitive natural resources. Completed and ongoing studies show that there are no sensitive natural or cultural resources that would be affected 100% of the lands are very low habitat value, low grazing value, low productivity salt desert scrub that occupies hundreds of thousands of acres in Lyon and Mineral counties.
13. Specifically, there are no sage grouse or nesting golden eagles on or near the land transfer
14. When the mine reaches full operations, it will employ between 900-1,100 workers at an average annual wage of $85,907 for a period of at least 22 years. There will be 500-600 construction workers employed during construction.
15. Based the most current job multipliers of between 2.3 published by the Nevada Mining Association in 2013 and 5.2, published by the University of Nevada Reno in 2010, direct, indirect and induced employment created by Pumpkin Hollow will be approximately 2,000 4,000 people. Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act City of Yerington, Lyon County and Nevada Copper Inc.
16. The mine project will contribute $15-25 million in property and net proceeds taxes per year
that would be distributed to Lyon County, Lyon County Schools, South Lyon Hospital District, Mason Valley Fire Protection District and the State of Nevada.
1 YERINGTON LAND CONVEYANCE BILL
Nevada Copper Inc. controls the Pumpkin Hollow Property which it proposes to develop as a
major copper mine. The City of Yerington, Lyon County and Nevada Copper have been working for over five years on development of the Pumpkin Hollow Mine integrated with other economic and recreational opportunities adjacent to the mine.
This proposal would require acquisition of the lands by the City of Yerington via federal legislation. Subsequent to passage of the legislation, the City of Yerington plans to annex the acquired lands, convey much of those lands to private ownership for economic development and retain others for public recreation facilities and open space buffer.
The proposal to allow the City of Yerington to purchase these lands for fair market value has the unanimous support of all local governmental authorities and the State of Nevada.
The City of Yerington, Lyon County and Nevada Copper believe that the proposed land conveyance, development of the mine and development of other economic and recreational activities can expedite economic recovery in this community, the third most economically distressed county in the United States.
As part of the transfer of federal lands to the City, and since Nevada Copper will be allowed to acquire a portion of those lands to support mine development, it has voluntarily agreed to develop a conservation component as a companion to the conveyance.
An overview and rationale for the conservation component is summarized in Section 3 below.
*The key benefits of the land conveyance are summarized in Section 2 below.
2 KEY BENEFITS OF A LAND CONVEYANCE
After extensive review and evaluation, the City, County and Nevada Copper determined that in addition to immediate tax benefits to the City, with only minor tax reductions to the County, the land conveyance would provide a compelling opportunity to create long term sustainable economic and recreational development opportunities for the local area.
In order to do that the federal lands would need to be transferred to the City and subsequently annexed and opened to potential industrial and commercial enterprises. Annexation of the mine into the City of Yerington would provide a share of both property taxes and net proceeds of mine taxes to the City – that without annexation would otherwise not occur. This economic development concept would take advantage of approximately $80 million of power, water, roads and sewer infrastructure needed for the mine to be utilized for these and other uses. This legislation would direct the Secretary of the Interior to sell for fair market value, approximately 10,400 acres of BLM land to the City of Yerington, which will enable it to annex the Pumpkin Hollow Project into the City.
Nevada Copper has already begun to develop the mine on private lands by sinking an initial shaft for the commencement of underground mining activities.
It is important to point out that a mine will be established on the lands contemplated for sale to the City whether or not Congress enacts the legislation. Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act City of Yerington, Lyon County and Nevada Copper Inc.
The choice is whether or not the City of Yerington will be allowed to economically benefit from the activities associated with the mine operations through the collection of taxes and development of other sustainable uses surrounding the mine lands for long term economic development once the mine activities cease.
Further, without the land acquisition, full construction of the mine would be extended by approximately three years. These three years of delay would cause roughly a 66% reduction in mine tax revenue for Lyon County and all other taxing entities during that time.
The history of Nevada public land conveyances has generally included a cost free conveyance for public purposes. However, these previous conveyances have been much smaller than the 10,400 acres contemplated by this bill. It is significant that Nevada Copper, on behalf of the City of Yerington, has agreed to pay fair market value for all of the lands.
If this legislation can be passed in a timely fashion, the mine plan and supporting infrastructure can be master planned to expand and extend the life of the mining operations and the City can develop other sustainable uses for economic development.
However, since definitive plans for the mine are in progress, time is of the essence to assure that other uses contemplated by the transfer can be integrated into mine design.
If the mine can expand to its full operational potential, the company estimates it will employ between 800-900 workers for a period of at least 22 years. Mining jobs are among the highest paying jobs in Nevada (average annual wage in the mining industry is $85,907). In addition, there will be approximately 500 people employed during construction.
Based the most current job multiplier of 5.23, published by the University of Nevada Reno in 2010, direct and indirect employment created by the full Pumpkin Hollow Project will be approximately 2,000-4,000.
Every government entity in the community – Lyon County, Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Yerington, Lyon County School District, South Lyon Medical Center, Mason Valley Fire Protection District – have experienced drastic declines in tax revenues and have been cutting budgets and laying off staff for four years now.
Lyon County is the third most economically stressed county in the U.S. with populations of at least 25,000.
It has Nevada’s highest unemployment rate – averaging 14-18% over the past three years – and Nevada’s highest foreclosure rate.
Since FY 2008 Lyon County has reduced it’s staffing by 25%. The County is currently looking at a $1.5 million shortfall for FY2014 which translates to further workforce reductions and possible elimination or reduction of essential services. Passage of the bill will provide jobs and increased tax revenues to provide statutorily mandated services.
Since 2007, reduced local revenue has forced the City of Yerington to reduce staffing by 17.4%, which has not been restored, and without the land acquisition there is no relief in the near future.
In January 2013, the Lyon County School District announced that it will need to cut its budget and additional $3.5 million on top of cuts made in previous years.
Due to long term chronic unemployment and dismal economic conditions, Lyon County Schools are now saying that what was once situational poverty is now becoming generational poverty – young people are now growing up with no experience other than poverty, a situation that has clear social consequences. Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act City of Yerington, Lyon County and Nevada Copper Inc.
In the community of Silver Springs alone, Lyon County Schools are now providing food pantry assistance for over 20% (twenty percent) of its population.
A compelling solution exists: the proposed sale of lands and expedited development of the mine.
Northern Nevada, including the Cities of Reno, Sparks, and Fernley, desperately needs the shot in the arm that this legislation will facilitate.
The transfer of federal lands to local communities is consistent with BLM policy to do so. Unfortunately, the administrative process has proved unsuccessful and untimely. The years that would be required to accomplish this transfer under administrative procedures would render the opportunity to integrate mine development and other economic development futile.
The type of public-private partnership contemplated by the joint development of the area to be transferred is the type of action that has been sought and advocated at every level of government in Nevada for more than 20 years. There is no study, nor taxpayer subsidy necessary, to implement this transfer and resultant economic benefit.
Regardless of land tenure, and procedure and mechanism for permitting the mine, the mine would be developed to the same environmental standards pursuant to local, state and federal requirements.
3 RELATED ELEMENTS
The City, county and Nevada Copper have been consulting with the Nevada Congressional Delegation for over four (4) years now. The discussion began with then Congressman Dean Heller in 2010 regarding the sale of land to the City. Once a specific proposal was developed amongst the three parties, the group reached out to Senator Reid’s senior staff in early 2011.
Representatives of Nevada Copper met with him on May 30, 2011 to consult with him and request his support for the legislation. Then in December 2011, Nevada Copper and the City met with him in Washington D.C. In March 2012, Nevada Copper and the City met with his senior staff in Washington to discuss legislation that had been introduced by Congressman Amodei in the House and Senator Heller in the Senate.
During those consultations, we were advised that Senator Reid wanted a conservation component in the bill. After investigating several options including a wilderness component, Nevada Copper determined that acquiring a conservation easement for sage grouse habitat, on the Desert Creek Ranch, would be a very attractive alternative. In light of the high priority put on preventing a listing of the Nevada-California Bi-State Population of the Sage Grouse and the importance of the Desert Creek Ranch, it provides further incentive to support the land conveyance, that would be in addition to any wilderness/conservation component that can be developed with consultation with and consensus from the residents of Lyon County.
An area referred to as ‘Wovoka’, in the South Pine Grove Hills, was the wilderness component sought by wilderness advocates for over five years and supported by Senator Reid. It is 20 miles south of the land conveyance area. Nevada Copper underwrote a study to evaluate that area.
This included the identification of resource values and land uses in that area and consultations with grazers, recreationalists, mining claim holders and other local stakeholders to determine if a compromise could be reached. After four months of intense collaboration amongst the County, City and Nevada Copper, a 48,000 acre compromise wilderness proposal was developed.
4 SUPPORTING INFORMATION
The following pages provide tables and graphs that show the importance of the land conveyance and the Pumpkin Hollow Project. The full, integrated mining operation would create approximately 500 construction jobs, 900-1,100 direct jobs, potentially 2,000-4,000 indirect jobs and over $1 billion in capital expenditures, much of which would flow into the Nevada economy.
Subsequently, another $1 billion in sustaining capital will be spent to continue to develop the mine and expand the start-up infrastructure. Combined wages, salaries, property taxes, and sales and use taxes will significantly contribute to the Lyon County and Nevada economy.