Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming from mineral development. The withdrawals are one plank of the Obama administration’s broader regulatory scheme to create a de-facto Endangered Species Act listing for the sage grouse. Earlier this week, the US Geological Survey (USGS) released an 800-page assessment of mineral potential within each state subject to potential future withdrawals.
House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement:
“This assessment shows significant negative impacts for western states if these withdrawals proceed. But let’s not miss the forest for the trees. Despite successful species conservation efforts at the state level, and a finding last year that listing the bird under the Endangered Species Act is not warranted, the Obama administration wants total regulatory control and a much more permanent trophy for litigious environmental groups. Along with oppressive land use plans covering parts of 10 states — with restrictions for all types of economic activities—these withdrawals have the potential to be even more punitive and damaging to energy producers and rural economies than an endangered finding. This is a de-facto listing and then some. USGS’s report is small snapshot of the pain to come. This issue will require continued oversight even after the Obama administration is finally gone. Blocking mineral development by another executive fiat is inexcusable, and the Committee will be sure to keep a close eye on it.”
“Secretary Salazar told the states they should adopt sage grouse protection plans and they would be accepted. States have spent time and money to create good plans. The current Secretary is now reneging on that promise. The state plans work and the department’s proposal does not. The department’s proposal hurts military preparedness and military ranges in the West, a fact that has never been taken into consideration.”
At a minimum, the USGS report suggests the withdrawal of such a massive area could have significant negative impacts to nearly 1.3 million acres of moderate to high resource potential. The withdrawal could also affect over 7,000 mining claims across several Western states, including Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Wyoming and Montana.