The article below comes from the Reno Gazette Journal. It was written by
After many delays over several years, good news was heard last week for the city of Yerington and Nevada Copper trying to acquire more than 12,000 acres of federal land southeast of Yerington. The House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed the latest version of the lands bill.
Several federal bills have been introduced that would provide for the acquisition at fair market value of the land — most to be used by the city for economic development and recreation purposes — and some Nevada Copper for mining at its Pumpkin Hollow site but with no success. All but the initial version of the bills also called for 44,000 acres of south Lyon County land to be designated as the Wovoka Wilderness.
However last Wednesday, the latest version, H.R. 5205, which compiles seven public lands bills into one, was approved unanimously, with one minor technical amendment, for markup by the House Natural Resources Committee, to be sent to the full House when it reconvenes again in September after the August recess. Title 2 of that bill, the Northern Nevada land Conservation and Economic Development Act, includes the Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation act.
Rep. Mark Amodei, R-District 2, who sponsored six of the bills that comprise this overall bill, and Rep. Steve Horsford, D-District 4, who sponsored the Lyon County bill, indicated the compromise agreement was made possible after adjustments to the legislation were made to a version passed in January, resolving some prior objections that didn’t deal with the local bill.
“The bill provides 1,000 jobs to Lyon County,” Horsford said, “something it desperately needs.”
That bill also includes the Fernley Economic Self-Determination Act, which would transfer 9,114 acres of federal land to the City of Fernley at fair market value.
Congressional officials said H.R. 5205 should be brought to the full House as a non-controversial suspension bill when Congress reconvenes starting Sept. 8. It was “reported favorably,” meaning it is recommended for passage by the House.
“I’m very encouraged with it,” said Yerington Mayor George Dini. “It’s a big step forward. I’m hoping they act on it real quick when they’re back from recess. This is a real opportunity to move forward and have it passed.”
Dini began growing a beard last month that he vowed to keep until the bill is passed.
“We are one step closer to finalization,” Yerington city manager Dan Newell said. “It will be great to have the waiting over. Now, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.”
“Hooray,” Lyon County manager Jeff Page said.
“I am very encouraged by these recent developments regarding the Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act,” said Lyon County Commission Virgil Arellano of Yerington. “I commend Congressman Amodei’s efforts as well as Congressman Horsford’s involvement in working to push our bill through to passage.”
However, he added, “I also share the frustration of Lyon County citizens regarding the delay in getting this legislation passed.”
Tim Dyhr, vice president, environment and external relations for Nevada Copper, said last Wednesday, “Though the Lyon County bill is categorized as a land bill, it is really one of the most significant economic jobs bills in the 113th Congress. It is a balance, bipartisan bill that has overwhelming local and state support, including that of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.”
Page said this has been a long process but thanked the efforts of Horsford in sponsoring and developing support for the bill and Amodei’s work to achieve a bipartisan solution, and his efforts to pass a similar bill a few years ago.
“The entire Nevada Congressional delegation supported this bill and worked towards moving it forward. Lyon County is optimistic that the bill will be sent to the president for signature before the end of the 113th Congress.”
Horsford, whose district includes Yerington and this property, said Wednesday, “Working to create jobs and strengthen the middle class has been my number one priority in Congress. Today, Democrats and Republicans unanimously moved a legislative package forward that will grow Nevada’s economy.
“This demonstrates that working bipartisan is the way to get things done for Nevada.”
Amodei, whose District 2 includes the north end of Mason Valley and the rest of Lyon County and whose district formerly represented all of Lyon County, said, “These are community-driven lands measures that will create jobs without cost to the federal taxpayer. For the second time in two years, the eyes of Northern Nevada turn to the Senate.”
Sen. Dean Heller commended Amodei “for his hard work in negotiating a compromise between the Nevada House delegation and the Republican and Democrat Natural Resources Committee leadership. In the Nevada delegation, we have a strong tradition of working cooperatively and in a bipartisan manner on public lands bills, and Congressman Amodei’s work should be recognized.”
Heller noted that and Sen. Harry Reid introduced the Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act in the Senate, and that legislation passed the Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Sept. 10, 2013.
Heller, as a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also introduced amendments to Senate bill 2569 that includes counterparts to the Lyon County bill, the Fernley Economic Self-Determination Act and others also included in H.R. 5205.
Arellano concluded, “We still need to push and make our voices heard while Congress is in summer recess. I urge all citizens to visit the social media campaign at PassbillsCreateJobs.com. The finish line is in sight.”
Nevada Copper has stated passage of the bill would accelerate its mining operations, including the development of the much larger Stage 2 open pit mine at its Pumpkin Hollow project, located on federal land, by two or three years, with receipt of State of Nevada permits in 2015. Other mining property is privately owned.
Nevada Copper said Stage 2 would add more than 950 jobs to the Stage 1 underground mine (450 jobs), creating more than 1,400 direct jobs and thousands of construction and other indirect jobs in Lyon County.
The Pumpkin Hollow project consists of a permitted 6,500 tons-per-day Stage 1 underground copper mine development, now in construction, and a nearby Stage 2 70,000 tons-per-day open pit mine project in advanced permitting phase.