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DOI and BLM Scrap 10-Million-Acre Mineral Withdrawal, Begin to Unwind Job-Killing Sage Grouse Policies

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Today, Congressional Western Caucus Vice-Chairman for Policy & Appropriations Mark Amodei (NV-02) joined fellow caucus members Chairman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04), Executive Vice-Chairman Scott Tipton (CO-03), Chairman Emeritus Rob Bishop (UT-01), Chief Infrastructure and Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman (AR-04), and Western Caucus members Greg Gianforte (MT-AT Large), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01),Andy Biggs (AZ-05), and Tom Emmer (MN-06) in response to the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of the Interior announcing they are cancelling the proposed 10-million-acre mineral withdrawal in six Western states, and that the agencies are initiating action to overturn restrictive Sage Grouse regulations implemented by the Obama Administration:

“My office plans on talking with the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) next week to debrief on what this means in terms of where we are at the moment, and what the timeline is for potential changes in resource management plans, administration of the minerals program, and the continued monitoring of Sage Hen habitat and populations,” stated Congressman Amodei. “We additionally intend to drill deeper into what this means with our local stakeholders, which include: the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the Nevada Farm Bureau, the Nevada Cattleman’s Association, State BLM and Forest Service officials, and conservation groups. If the bottom line is that local conservation, recreation, agribusiness, and minerals communities get to have a meaningful say in what we do about Sage Hen habitat and population in Nevada – then thank you Mr. President and thank you Mr. Secretary."

“The de facto Sage Grouse listing and 20-year mineral moratorium on 10 million acres proposed by the Obama Administration is the greatest regulatory threat to the West,” explained Chairman Gosar. “New mining operations on this massive swath of land with more than 7,000 active claims were prohibited for two years. Today’s mineral withdrawal cancellation allows job creators and hardrock miners to get back to work immediately. I am extremely grateful to Secretary Zinke and Acting BLM Director Nedd in that regard. And while taking steps to unwind the 98 Obama plan amendments on approximately 70 million other acres is welcomed, Congress must act in order to provide timely and permanent certainty on this issue for local stakeholders and Western communities.”

“After months of engaging with states and local communities on their Sage Grouse preservation efforts, I am pleased to see that Secretary Zinke is taking action to support the locally-tailored preservation efforts that account for the unique ecology and topography of the region in which the habitat occurs. The Obama Administration’s one-size-fits-all approach was bad for the West and according to biologists and conservationists, not the most effective way to restore the species. I am confident that when given the ability, Western States can produce better outcomes than the federal government,” stated Congressman Tipton.

“These withdrawals were never about Sage Grouse conservation. It was all a ploy to assert more federal power, ignore actual data and best science, and diminish the influence and authority of states. States have proven to be more than capable of managing wildlife and conservation within their borders and will continue to be the best advocate for the species,” said Congressman Bishop. “Secretary Zinke is developing a better policy through input from states and people on the ground with local knowledge and expertise.”

“The Interior Department is taking the right steps to roll back the Obama’s Administration’s overreach. This bureaucratic overreach hurts jobs and puts rural communities at risk. Congress must act to codify the Interior Department’s actions and ensure once and for all that no administration can once again threaten the livelihood of rural communities,” stated Congressman Westerman.

“I appreciate Secretary Zinke revisiting this issue. I look forward to working with Montanans to reach a solution that works best for our state and way of life,” said Congressman Gianforte.

“I am encouraged to see a hurtful Obama administration ruling rolled back by the Interior Department. This is a responsible measure considering that the ten million acres now freed up for productive use will benefit many industries unique to the West, like mining and ranching. It is a great opportunity for these states to grow and choose what works best for them based on their individual needs,” said Congressman Lamborn.

Congressman LaMalfa said, “The steps being taken by the Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management to unwind ineffective environmental policies are certainly taking us in the right direction. The Obama Administration’s restrictions placed on Sage Grouse habitat are unnecessary for a species that has now proven to be quite abundant. These restrictions only serve to harm American energy production and other beneficial uses in the west, and I’m happy that Secretary Zinke has recognized this as a real problem. That being said, Congress must work to pass legislation that provides a permanent solution that approaches conservation in a more practical and responsible manner. I am committed to making that happen.”

“The West is known for its abundance of natural resources. Jobs and local economies depend on the production of these resources. With complete disregard to these communities, President Obama used the sage grouse as a pawn to impede economic development on federal lands - putting in jeopardy the jobs of miners, ranchers, and oil producers. I commend President Trump and Secretary Zinke on their commitment to working on behalf of Western states, not against them,” said Congressman Biggs.

“I am pleased to see the Trump Administration’s decision today to undo yet another unnecessary, politically motivated action from the Obama Administration. I am encouraged and hopeful this will spur similar action related to the withdrawal in Northern Minnesota,” said Congressman Emmer.

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Click here to go to the Congressional Western Caucus website to learn more. 

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