Legislative and Regulatory Update
October 2021 by Scott Harn
• BLM is moving back to DC?
Dept. of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will reverse a Trump Administration decision that moved BLM’s headquarters closer to the region it served, from Washington, DC, to Colorado.
The Trump move included relocating 222 positions to various Western States, with 27 supervisors and support staff heading to the new headquarters in Golden, Colorado. The estimated cost savings was substantial—$50 million to $100 million over 20 years—because of the substantially lower cost of living compared to DC and less money spent on travel.
The move also served to inject new blood into the agency as many employees decided to resign or retire rather than relocate.
Haaland stated the agency will establish a headquarters in both states under President Biden, so much of that cost savings will likely be eliminated or the cost may even increase.
William Perry Pendley, who was the acting director of BLM during the Trump Administration and tasked with implementing the move, applauded the decision at the time.
“The decsion-makers are in Washington, that’s where it’s centralized. And I’m afraid they’re out of touch with what’s going on out on the land,” Pendley said back in 2019.
In a recent exclusive with the Prospecting and Mining Journal, Pendley told us that “only a handful of the 41 positions we established in Grand Junction are headed back to DC to join the 61 positions we left there to handle public affairs, congressional affairs, regulatory affairs, budget, and FOIA issues. ...The hundreds of positions we moved to locations consistent with their duties will remain in the West.”
“For example, we put the wild horse managers in Nevada where 70 percent of the wild horses are located. We put the archeological experts in Santa Fe closer to the work they do primarily around the Four Corners. And we put the renewable energy experts in California, which is the epicenter of that work.
“In short, Haaland’s decision vindicates the wisdom of our work to put the top leaders near the resources they manage and the people who report to them. Frankly, people who do the work the BLM does do not want to be in DC. They want to be close to the resources they manage whether that is recreation, energy, timber or cultural. Plus, they want to enjoy the lower cost of living, higher standard of living, and shorter daily commutes to work (10 minutes vs. 1.5 hours one way).”
• Gray wolf re-listed?
The US Fish and Wildlife service announced on September 15 that the gray wolf could get re-listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to the risk of “potential increases in human-caused mortality.”
This announcement coincided with opening day of wolf hunting season in Montana and Idaho, two states where wolves have been responsible for the killing of cattle, sheep, llamas and livestock guardian dogs.
• EPA to redefine WOTUS again
The Environmental Protection Agency announced the agency intends to do redefine Waters of the United States (WOTUS) yet again after seasonal streams, ditches and ponds were removed from federal EPA jurisdiction by the Trump Administration.
Miners and other public land users can expect that further restrictions will be put in place by the Biden Administration.
You can find information online in the Federal Register by searching for “FR Doc. 2021-16643.”
On July 4, we are reminded of the sacrifices our Founding Fathers made to establish this great country of ours, and in that spirit, the Minerals and Mining Advisory Council (MMAC) has created a draft Declaration of Miners.And MMAC has been hard at work writing a bill, with the unwavering support of several members of Congress, to reaffirm the rights of miners operating in traditional mining districts.
Recently, a left-leaning Arizona federal judge, James Soto, who is an Obama appointee, shut down a proposed copper mining project for the flimsiest of reasons. He basically disregarded and rewrote federal mining law.
Amendment to Deny Funding of BLM Land-Grab
Keep in mind there are specific steps that must be taken to get your traditional mining district organized if it has fallen into disarray.
In May 2017, the district participated in a meeting with representatives from several state and federal agencies where they educated agency officials about the authority of Mining Districts, Mining Law and miner’s rights.
SB 765...would tax suction gold dredgers by charging a $50 annual fee for in-state dredgers and a whopping $2,500 fee for out-of-state dredgers for each county where the miner intends to dredge.
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