Vice President Gore proposed today to spend $2 billion over 10 years to set aside more parkland and combat suburban sprawl. The money would come from a mining industry fee.
"All working families deserve easy access to parks and open space, whether they live in the inner city or on the growing edge of suburbia," the Democratic presidential candidate said in a prepared statement.
Gore would pay for his proposal by charging mining companies fees for extracting minerals from federal lands.
Under an 1872 mining law, the federal government does not levy a royalty on "hard rock" minerals extracted from public lands. By contrast, coal, oil and gas producers pay federal land royalties ranging from 8 percent to 12.5 percent. Other industries that consume natural resources on federal lands, such as loggers, also pay royalties.
"By finally reforming a 19th century law that has done irreparable harm to our public lands, we can build a conservation legacy in the 21st century," Gore said.
There was no immediate comment from the National Mining Association.
Gore also would offer tax incentives to ensure that some privately owned land passes into public hands.
He proposed a 50 percent cut in capital gains taxes on the transfer of farms and other private property when they are placed under a conservation or agricultural easement.
He also would expand current estate tax deductions for landowners who transfer properties near cities, parks or wilderness areas.
In January, President Clinton proposed a $1 billion "lands legacy" to protect unspoiled land and historic sites. Leaders of the Republican-controlled Congress have offered to spend much less.
CAPTION: Vice President Gore proposes funding parkland expansion with fees on the mining industry.