NMA Hits BLM’s Massive Land Withdrawal as Unwarranted, Unwise

National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn issued the following statement regarding today’s announced decision by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to withdraw from mining up to 10 million acres of federal land to protect habitat for the sage grouse:

“The Fish and Wildlife Service’s determination not to list the sage grouse as endangered or threatened is a welcome recognition of the multi-party conservation efforts to preserve greater sage grouse habitat on private and public lands. Unfortunately, this determination masks an unwise decision to move forward with the withdrawal of 10 million acres of federal lands from future mineral development.

“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. It will have a significant impact on the ability to develop domestic minerals on federal lands, half of which is already off-limits or under restrictions for mineral development. 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.

“The proposed withdrawal is all the more unjustified in view of the extensive web of state and federal regulatory requirements as well as the voluntary efforts of mining companies that together ensure protection of various species including sage grouse. It is not only the designation of the species that is unwarranted, but the intention to deprive the nation of critical resources that can be and are recovered in an environmentally sensitive manner.”