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Association condemns BLM’s Conservation and Landscape Rule as industry lockout

Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says the rule's focus is to bolster landscape resilience in the face of climate change.

Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says the rule's focus is to bolster landscape resilience in the face of climate change.

22nd April 2024

By: Mariaan Webb

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

     

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The Essential Minerals Association (EMA) has raised objections to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) final Conservation and Landscape Health rule, citing concerns over what it perceives as a deliberate exclusion of the mining sector from federal lands.

"Our nation’s federal lands exist to serve many purposes, including mining essential minerals vital for our everyday lives. It is extremely disappointing that the political officials at BLM are issuing a rule that not only exceeds their lawful authority, but also essentially blocks off large swaths of federal lands for responsible use by the minerals industry," said EPA president Chris Greissing.

The rule, according to the EMA, favours conservation as an eligible use and expands designations of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, deviating from the multiple use concept outlined in the Federal Land Management Policy Act. Greissing highlighted the rule's instruction to refrain from authorising activities that could affect "landscape resilience," including mining, despite its historical coexistence with other land uses on BLM lands.

"Clearly, this is an effort to lock up federal lands from historically legal and purposeful uses," Greissing asserted, further stating that such measures contradict the Biden Administration’s purported goals of transitioning to a green energy economy, which heavily relies on domestically sourced minerals.

The Department of the Interior framed the final Public Lands Rule as a means to promote balanced management of the US’ public lands. Secretary Deb Haaland said the rule's focus was to bolster landscape resilience in the face of climate change and reiterated the administration's commitment to implementing enduring changes for the benefit of wildlife, communities, and habitats.

The final rule, which builds on decades of land management experience, emphasises the use of science and data to guide decision-making.

The Interior Department said the final rule came amid growing pressures and historic challenges facing land managers. The impacts of climate change — including prolonged drought, increasing wildfires, and an influx of invasive species — pose increasing risks to communities, wildlife and ecosystems. The Public Lands Rule would help the BLM navigate changing conditions on the ground, while helping public lands continue to serve as economic drivers across the West.

“The BLM received and considered over 200 000 comments on the proposed rule from individuals, state, Tribal and local governments, industry groups and advocacy organizations, which led to important improvements in this final rule,” said principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management Dr. Steve Feldgus. “Continued broad collaboration with this diverse group of partners will be key to our implementation of this rule to ensure that our public lands are being managed for all Americans.” 

“Our public lands provide wildlife habitat and clean water, the energy that lights our homes, the wood we build with, and the places where we make family memories,” said BLM director Tracy Stone-Manning. “This rule honors our obligation to current and future generations to help ensure our public lands and waters remain healthy amid growing pressures and change.” 

The final rule clarifies and refines concepts first proposed in April 2023. The BLM provided a 90-day comment period on this rule, holding five public meetings and receiving over 200 000 comments.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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