Barack Obama

Obama Administration Considers Mining Limits To Save Sage Grouse


The Obama administration brought fourth a draft proposal Thursday to withdraw future mining claims from lands native to the greater sage-grouse bird.

The Bureau of Land Management proposed five possible plans, ranging from no action to the withdrawal of approximately 10 million acres of federal mining areas that are crucial to the Greater Sage-Grouse from future mining claims.

The proposed rules could potentially limit future mining claims in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.

The Greater Sage-Grouse population, an indicator of the health of the sagebrush ecosystem, has dwindled to an estimated 200,000 to 500,000.

None of the plans offered by the BLM will prohibit already approved ongoing or future mining extraction operations.

After a 90-day public comment period ends March 30, 2017, the Trump administration will have the authority to decide which plan to move forward with, if any.

Trump’s choice for Interior Secretary, Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont, has made no indication whether or not he will pursue, modify, or scrap the proposed conservation plans.

The proposed mining restrictions are already under attack from both sides of the political isle. Environmental groups claim the proposals are too lenient, and energy companies are saying they’re too restrictive.

Following President Barack Obama’s designation Wednesday of two new national monuments in Utah and Nevada, the proposed plans are also expected to draw ire from Republican politicians.

With just a few weeks remaining in his presidency, Obama finds himself under attack by Republicans for his last-minute environmental efforts.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has called Obama’s recent land grabbing actions “an astonishing and egregious abuse of executive power.”

“Far-left special interest groups matter more to him than the people who have lived on and cared for Utah’s lands for generations,” Hatch said Wednesday.

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., called the plan an “11th-hour attack on Nevada and the West.”

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