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Senators aim bill at mining in Owyhee

The Enterprise

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley last week introduced legislation to block mining exploration on more than 2 million acres in Malheur County.

The senators say the bill would stop oil and gas drilling, but also help ranchers and farmers by enhancing and protecting their traditional economic activities.

The bill, dubbed the Southeastern Oregon Mineral Withdrawal and Economic Preservation and Development Act, recognizes that public lands in the region have hosted agriculture and cattle ranching for generations, the senators said in a release announcing the legislation.

However, they said those pursuits face threats including the possibility of foreign companies who want to parachute into the state to explore for minerals such as uranium.

“This is deeply troubling because these mining operations are dangerous – to the existing local economies as well as to . . .