Yellowstone mining opponents press Gianforte to join cause

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BILLINGS, Mont. - Opponents of two gold mines proposed near Yellowstone National Park are pressing Montana U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte to sponsor legislation that would withdraw public lands in the area from future mining.

A coalition of businesses and conservation groups on Tuesday said the Republican's support was crucial to making permanent a temporary mining ban enacted last year on 47 square miles (121 square kilometers) of land outside Yellowstone.

A Yellowstone-area mining ban bill sponsored by Democrat U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is stalled in the Senate in the face of Republican opposition.

Gianforte and Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines have said they support the concept of a permanent ban. But they say there needs to be something for the other side and have criticized lawsuits blocking mines in northwest Montana despite local support.