Citing research into sage grouse habitat, the Bureau of Land Management “canceled its Sagebrush Focal Area withdrawal application and the Department’s proposed withdrawal of 10 million acres of federal lands from location and entry under the mining law in Greater Sage-grouse habitat in six Western States.”
Acting BLM Director Mike Nedd said “The proposal to withdraw 10 million acres to prevent 10,000 from potential mineral development was a complete overreach. Secretary Zinke has said from the beginning that by working closely with the states, who are on the front lines and a valued partner in protecting the health of these lands, we can be successful in conserving greater sage grouse habitat without stifling economic development and job growth. And that’s what we intend to do—protect important habitat while also being a good neighbor to states and local communities.”
According to the BLM’s statement, “The BLM determined the proposal to withdraw 10 million acres was unreasonable in light of the data that showed that mining affected less than .1 percent of sage-grouse-occupied range.” The statement included this paragraph:
The recommendation to withdraw nearly 10 million acres from location and entry under the mining law was one of many land use restrictions proposed for a new management area designated as the Sagebrush Focal Area (SFA). However, that recommendation was unreasonable in light of the data available. In particular, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2005 “Not Warranted” decision, the 2010 “Warranted But Precluded” Decision and the 2015 “Not Warranted” decision all showed that mining—including locatable mining—was not a significant threat to sage-grouse.
The lands will continue to be managed in accordance with existing plans, programs, policies and regulations in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. They had been temporarily segregated, or closed to new mining claims for 2 years when the Department originally proposed the lands for withdrawal in 2015, while the agency studied whether locatable mineral exploration and mining projects would adversely affect habitat important to the greater sage grouse. That temporary segregation period expired September 24, 2017.
During the Obama administration, the Bureau of Land Management antagonized mining companies during its war on fossil fuels.
The Bureau of Land Management, part of the Department of the Interior, was established in 1946 to administer grazing and mineral rights when the U.S. Grazing Service was merged with the General Land Office. Today it manages 246 million acres of land, mostly in the Western U.S., ranging from lush Northwestern forests to arid, oil-rich sage grouse habitat. The BLM leases federal public lands for mineral mining, oil and gas extraction, grazing, timber production and solar and wind energy development. In 2016, the agency had a budget of $1.2 billion and about 11,000 employees, including 200 rangers and 70 special agents who enforce federal laws on public lands, plus about 25,000 volunteers.
The Trump administration has taken a different approach:
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any federal agency. This land is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield.
The Obama administration’s days of mismanagement of federal lands are over. Thanks to the Trump administration’s approach, the United States has become a net exporter of fossil fuels. That approach has also super-charged that portion of the economy.