Proposed gold mines bordering or near Yellowstone National Park could harm the Yellowstone River and every town, including Billings, downstream. Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte claim they want to permanently prohibit mining on public lands near Yellowstone. But all they’ve done so far is talk.

Daines is on the U.S. Senate’s subcommittee that held a hearing on the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act. With his support last July, the bill could have moved out of committee to a vote. If approved, the YGPA could permanently prohibit mining on public lands surrounding Yellowstone. Many Montanans have asked Daines to help pass the bill, but his inaction has kept the YGPA trapped in committee.

Time is running out for the YGPA, which I fear is what Daines and Gianforte want. Instead, here’s what they should do:

Daines can tell the committee that he, Sen. Jon Tester, and Rep. Greg Gianforte are all behind the YGPA. With Montana’s entire delegation behind the bill, it can move out of committee and to a vote. Daines need not write a different bill. If he can’t support the YGPA for some political reason, then he can tell the party’s leadership he will not fight their moving the YGPA to a vote.

Gianforte can introduce a clean companion bill in the U.S. House.

The proposed mines on Yellowstone’s border threaten Montana’s clean water, pristine environment, and tourism-based economy. Daines and Gianforte should act today to permanently prohibit such mining.

Rick Lamplugh