The Anaconda Copper Mine is an abandoned open pit copper mine in Lyon County, Nevada. Photo: Kelapstick

'A blatant slap in the face': Tribes oppose land transfer bill in Nevada

The Yerington Paiute Tribe and the Walker River Paiute Tribe are slamming a land transfer bill that was drafted without their input.

H.R.5347, the Lyon County Economic Development and Environmental Remediation Act, would transfer more than 2,000 acres from the Bureau of Land Management to a private corporation. The Yerington Paiute Tribe has already expressed interest in the same property, which has been polluted by mining development.

“As the tribe has shown interest in purchasing these lands, it is difficult to understand why these lands would be included in a no-cost land transfer to a foreign corporation.” Chairman Laurie Thom wrote in a letter posted by The Reno Gazette-Journal.

Chairman Amber Torres of the Walker River Paiute Tribe was just as incensed. She said no one from the BLM or from the office of Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nevada), the sponsor the bill, has engaged in government-to-government consultation.

”It is just a blatant slap in the face to us as tribes,” Torres told the paper.

Land transfer bills have gained popularity in recent years, with Republicans often taking the lead to take land out of federal management and transfer it to tribes, states and local governments. In Nevada, more than 70,000 acres was placed in trust for six tribes as part of the Nevada Nations Land Act.

Amodei was the sponsor of that bill, which became law in October 2016.

H.R.5347 has not yet secured a hearing in the House. The bill would transfer the land to Atlantic Richfield Co., a subsidiary of BP, an energy conglomerate based in the United Kingdom.

“BP came in and asked us to introduce a bill,” Amodei told The Gazette-Journal. He said the transfer would put cleanup efforts in the hands of the corporation, rather than the federal government.

The tribe has sued Atlantic Richfield and BP America in hopes of forcing a cleanup at the Anaconda Copper Mine Site, where uranium, arsenic and other dangerous toxins have contaminated the soil and groundwater

Read More on the Story:
Nevada congressman wants to give polluted public land to BP, American Indian tribes object (The Reno Gazette-Journal May 14, 2018)
Today's debate: Should tribes have first crack at federal land transfers? (The Reno Gazette-Journal May 16, 2018)

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