Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Interior proposes banning new mining on 10 million acres to protect the sage grouse

The Interior Department is considering withdrawing up to 10 million acres in six states from new hardrock mining claims as part of its sweeping federal plans designed to protect and restore greater sage grouse habitat. The proposal has drawn howls of protest from the mining industry and some congressional leaders, who say the impact of the withdrawals could be devastating to the industry and the mostly rural communities that depend on the jobs and revenue it contributes to local economies. The withdrawals proposed by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service target the most critical sage grouse habitat in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. The withdrawals are recommended in the federal sage grouse plans finalized by Interior yesterday, and would prohibit new mining claims on the specific BLM or Forest Service lands under the General Mining Law of 1872...more

Does the Secretary of Interior have the authority to withdraw this huge acreage from mining?  Yes. 

Who gave the Secretary this power to act?  The Congress (See Section 204 of FLPMA).  

The Dems love this authority, so no help there.  What about the Repubs?  They will scream and holler when a Dem administration uses it, but do nothing to revoke that authority during Repub administrations.  Just like the authority to designate huge monuments, the Repubs do nothing when they are in the majority to move that authority back to Congress.  Therefore, one must conclude they approve of that authority.  So no help there either.

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