|Sage Grouse Position|
The Industrial Minerals Association – North America (IMA-NA) is extremely concerned about recent draft Land Use Plan Amendments and Environmental Impact Statements Preferred Alternatives from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in eleven western states related to the sage grouse. These draft proposals stand to severely impede and potentially even prohibit a wide range of responsible uses of nearly 60 million acres of public lands with sage grouse habitat in eleven western states.
IMA - NA believes the BLM and USFS are inappropriately using concerns about a potential listing of the greater sage-grouse as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act to assert a need for widespread land use restrictions – including the withdrawal of over 17 million acres from operation under the U.S. mining law. In doing so, BLM and USFS have far exceeded their statutory authority by proposing actions that fail to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and violate at least a half dozen other laws.
The preferred alternatives discussed in the draft should be based on the best available science and commercial data. Unfortunately, that is not the case here, as BLM is relying on a December 2011 study from the Sage Grouse National Technical Team titled “A Report on National Greater Sage Grouse Conservation Measures”, which lacks independent authorship and peer review and includes invalid assumptions, analysis and inadequate data. There also have been two subsequent reports from the US Geological Survey and US Fish and Wildlife Service that undermined the one-sized-fits all approach in the BLM supported report.
The overall economic impact of this rule should not be discounted. Many small communities in the West rely on the mining industry to survive via direct and indirect employment from the industry. If the BLM plan were to be finalized, it would lead to further restrictions in accessing important mineral deposits and energy resources which would lead to thousands of lost jobs and an increased reliance on foreign sources of critical and strategic minerals and energy.
There must be Congressional action taken in the coming months to prevent the BLM and USFS from proceeding with this destructive plan. IMA-NA encourages Congress to assert its legislative and oversight authority to prevent the BLM from moving forward with a plan that seems designed more towards eliminating mining on these lands than protecting the sage grouse.
IMA-NA shares the goal of conserving Greater Sage Grouse to make an Endangered Species Act listing unnecessary. IMA-NA looks forward to working with the BLM, USFS, Congressional leadership and other interested stakeholders to come to a common sense solution that will allow for the protection of the sage grouse and the continued best use of public lands for the economic good of the country.