Legislative and Regulatory Update
June 2021 by Scott Harn
• Biden administration considers ban on new mining
The Biden administration announced on May 11 it will consider banning new mining across millions of acres of the West to protect the greater sage grouse.
The Obama administration established a temporary mining ban across ten million acres in Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, but the Trump administration determined mining or grazing would not pose a significant threat to the birds.
US District Judge Winmill said in February that the Trump administration ignored prior science on the issue, including a 2017 government study that concluded restrictions on new mining would avoid impacts to hundreds of sage grouse breeding areas.
The National Mining Association has said blocking mining across such a large area would be unreasonable and that the science used by the Trump administration was correct. Spokesperson Conor Bernstein said the court’s order “does not ultimately mean that the BLM will move forward with the withdrawal.”
“We believe the scientific evidence on sage grouse conservation and public policy considerations regarding the need for domestic minerals to shore up the supply chains for our nation’s energy future will prevail,” he said.
• 30 x 30 Termination Act
Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) introduced the 30 x 30 Termination Act, that would do just what the title suggests. The bill would nullify Executive Order 14008 signed by President Biden, which directs his administration to conserve 30 percent of all lands and waters in the United States by 2030.
The bill would prohibit federal funds from being spent to carry out the program, ensure no net-loss of non-federal lands in counties and states where 15% of lands are already under federal control, prohibit designations of additional lands using the Antiquities Act in those same states and counties, and prohibit mineral withdrawals without Congressional approval.
The bill was endorsed by 22 members of Congress, including Representatives Michael Guest (MS), Chip Roy (TX), Scott Perry (PA), Ted Budd (NC), Ronny Jackson (TX), Adrian Smith (NE), Doug LaMalfa (CA), Ken Buck (CO), Dan Bishop (NC), Pat Fallon (TX), Tom Emmer (MN), Randy Weber (TX), Bob Good (VA), Don Bacon (NE), Andy Biggs (AZ), Paul Gosar (AZ), Brian Babin (TX), Rick Crawford (AR), Michael Cloud (TX), Pete Stauber (MN), Austin Scott (GA), and Tom Tiffany (WI).
During discussions with other property rights advocates and members of the current administration, Karen Budd-Falen’s name was mentioned many times as a possible director for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
It's a proven civil remedy to put an end to harassment by notifying a person who is either overstepping their authority, or failing to act as required, that they will be sued personally for an act or omission.
This ruling comes at an opportune time, just as suction dredge miners are dealing with new proposed regulations in several western states. Be sure to cite this case when you provide comments on the regulations!
• Change is coming at Interior
• Interior Department seeking public comment regarding minerals
Manderfield’s ruling opens the way for Kennecott Eagle to begin blasting. The company has declined to say when it will start. A spokeswoman said drilling would begin “in the coming weeks".
• Our Federal Landlord
• One down, two to go
• Challenging timing windows in Washington State
• More roadblocks to mining
We all know that it was never Congress’ intent to regulate gold panners and other individual mine operators through MSHA. In fact, I believe the concept of owner-operated mines with no employees was so strange a concept to the lawmakers that they never even thought there would be a need for such an exemption.
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