Federal Land Withdrawals Threaten U.S. Minerals Security and Undermine Conservation Efforts

Posted on March 22, 2016 by Minerals Make Life

Unprecedented land withdrawals recommended by the U.S. Forest Service (FS) and U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will put our economic and minerals security at risk in the name of protecting the habitat of the sage grouse, a bird determined not endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). If implemented, the Department of the Interior (DOI) will withdraw from mining up to 10 million acres of mineral rich lands in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. This could be the largest land withdrawal in the history of the Federal Land Policy Management Act.

Minerals Make Life released a video last week explaining how these federal land withdrawals will negatively impact our nation, its industries and its citizens. Be sure to watch the video here and share it with your friends.

Mining companies are active participants in crafting and implementing plans for environmental stewardship. In fact, many of their projects and land reclamation activities have received environmental awards from the DOI, including the recent Sage Grouse Initiative Project. Mining companies also participate in voluntary efforts to protect the sage grouse by reducing wildfire risk, eliminating invasive species and creating new habitats. Yet, despite the mining industry’s proven commitment to its role in environmental stewardship, it may be denied access to lands that have significant minerals potential.

When the BLM announced its recommendation earlier this year, National Mining Association’s President and CEO Hal Quinn stated:

“Declaring such a vast acreage off limits from mineral development simply to support a single species that is admittedly not in danger of extinction is no less harmful than a listing decision… Such a policy is particularly unwise considering the nation’s increasing reliance on foreign sources of minerals to supply the defense, high-tech electronics, advanced energy, medical and other critical industries.”

These actions would not only hurt the mining industry, which supports more than 1.3 million U.S. jobs and generates more than $46 billion in taxes, it would also further restrict access to crucial minerals. The states subjected to the proposed land withdrawals, along with other western states, account for 75 percent of U.S. metals production. Since half of the nation’s federal hardrock minerals are already off-limits for minerals development, this has severe implications for our country’s ability to meet its technological development, manufacturing, infrastructure and energy needs.

In addition to these restrictions and bans, the mining industry is subject to an arduous permitting process that can last up to 10 years. The unnecessary delays created by this permitting process already inhibit development of the nation’s mineral resources. As a result, the U.S. has become increasingly reliant on imported minerals.

To learn more about the federal lands issue, read the National Mining Association’s fact sheet here.

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