Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Editorial: Governor puts Jewell's credibility on the line

Gov. Brian Sandoval has thrown down the gauntlet in the battle over hardrock mining’s future in Nevada, taking the bold step of calling out Sally Jewell over management of agencies she oversees as Secretary of the Interior.

Their response will reveal whether the proposed mineral withdrawal is more about helping the sage grouse or harming the state’s mining industry.

The Bureau of Land Management’s comment period closed three weeks ago, and Nevadans could learn by the end of the month whether the current two-year ban will be extended to 20 years. If it is, there will be no exploration along the northern edge of our state, nor in much of Idaho and southeastern Oregon.

Sandoval submitted the state’s official comments by the Jan. 15 deadline, including a revision that followed his talks with Jewell in early December. “Secretary Jewell committed to robust collaboration on the mineral withdrawal process,” he announced at the time. “The Secretary understands the national security and economic development importance of the mineral potential in Nevada.”

The deal outlined by our governor would preserve mining exploration on most of the proposed withdrawal area, while protecting critical sage grouse habitat in other areas. But it may be in jeopardy, because on Jan. 28 Sandoval issued a press release putting Jewell on the spot.
“I have always taken the Secretary at her word but if her agencies refuse to implement her publicly stated policies, the state cannot assume our negotiations are happening in good faith and my administration will consider the other legal options we have identified in the past,” he wrote.

One of “her” agencies, the BLM, is currently run by Neil Kornze of Elko. When questioned about the governor’s proposal by The Associated Press, Kornze’s Nevada spokesman gave an ambiguous response.

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