EMA to BLM: Proposed Conservation and Landscape Health Rule Poses Threat to the Minerals Industry
Arlington, Va., July 10, 2023 – Last week, the Essential Minerals Association (EMA) delivered comments to the Bureau of Land Management highlighting the negative impact the proposed Conservation and Landscape Health rule would have on mining operators who lease land from the federal government.
“Our nation is in desperate need of the essential mineral resources that EMA members responsibly extract from federal lands, as well as the high paying jobs they provide and support nationwide,” said Chris Greissing, EMA President. “Under existing law, BLM has successfully managed federal lands using the multiple use goals laid out in Federal Land Management Policy Act (FLPMA). However, the rule being proposed represents a clear and imminent threat to the minerals industry and its contributions to the economy, including the green energy transition, which relies heavily on many of the minerals EMA members produce.”
The proposed rule exceeds BLM’s lawful authority, goes against the multiple use concept the Bureau is based upon, would institute a “pay for play” system that would extort project applicants, would significantly curtail mining on federal lands, all while creating an increased work backlog and placing greater demands on BLM staff.
Under the proposed rule, BLM would be able to set aside areas of land for “conservation leases,” which EMA members and other project applicants would have to purchase before obtaining permits. The proposed rule would also instruct BLM offices to refrain from authorizing activities that it believes could affect “landscape resilience,” including mining, which the rule specifically lists as such an activity despite its long history of coexistence with other land uses on BLM lands for decades. BLM would also be able to expand the criteria for Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, further increasing the areas where mining and other activities would be prohibited. Finally, BLM offices would be required to consider land health assessments, evaluations, and determinations across all programs and decision-making processes, which are currently only required for grazing permits.
This rule, if enacted, would mark a dramatic change in BLM’s land use planning that would be highly detrimental not only to EMA members, but to the Bureau itself and the lands it is responsible for. EMA urges BLM to withdraw the proposed rule immediately and work with all stakeholders to find a more balanced, legally sound, and practicable approach to public lands management.
The Essential Minerals Association (EMA) is the representative voice for companies that extract and process a vital and beneficial group of raw materials and minerals, which are the essential ingredients for many of the products used in everyday life. Formerly, the Industrial Minerals Association – North America, EMA ensures that the voices of its member companies and the socio-economic benefits they provide – from mining to end-use products – are heard by government leaders as well as the general public. Visit essentialminerals.org to learn more.