Zinke Extends Mining Ban Near Yellowstone, Protecting Land in Home State
The move withdraws more than 30,000 acres of public lands in Montana's Paradise Valley from new claims for gold, silver and other mineral extraction for 20 years. It does not impact existing mining claims on private lands in the area.
"I fully support multiple use of public lands, but multiple use is about balance and knowing that not all areas are right for all uses," Zinke said in a statement posted by The Hill. "There are places where it is appropriate to mine and places where it is not. Paradise Valley is one of the areas it's not."
The announcement is a noted departure for Zinke and the Trump administration, which has significantly downsized and opened up staggering chunks of federal land across the country to oil, gas and other extractive industries.
Zinke has previously voiced support for the Yellowstone mining ban, which protects land in his home state of Montana.
"I've been fighting to protect the Paradise Valley and Yellowstone since I represented Montana in Congress," he said in March.
What a great day for the Paradise Valley. Today I signed a 20 year mineral withdrawal to protect Emigrant Peak and… https://t.co/p6ZKWs5NBy— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@Secretary Ryan Zinke)1539018266.0
This is not the first time Zinke has appeared to treat his home state differently. Last year, in his review of national monuments, he suggested creating three new monuments, including the Badger-Two Medicine area next to the Blackfeet Nation reservation by Glacier National Park in Montana. Also in March, the Bureau of Land Management—which the Interior department oversees—removed 17,300 acres of Montana from oil and gas leases.
"I've always said there are places where it is appropriate to develop and where it's not. This area certainly deserves more study, and appropriately we have decided to defer the sale," Zinke said in a statement after pulling the sale.
"Secretary Zinke always seems to support conservation in his home state of Montana, while backing the most aggressive forms of industrial development in the other 49 states. While Zinke rushes to open up places like Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and the Boundary Waters to copper, uranium, and coal mining, only Montana's natural treasures get the protection they deserve. It's now clear Ryan Zinke will only do the right thing when his political future is on the line."
Zinke has denied any particular favoritism towards Montana.
"I don't think that's supported by the facts," he told The New York Times in April, noting that he halted oil and gas leases near New Mexico's Chaco Canyon and pushed for coastal redevelopment in Louisiana.
"I do listen to Montanans the same way I listen to Palau or the Virgin Islands," he added.
Yellowstone-area mining has been a concern since 2016 when proposals for a pair of gold mines popped up in the Emigrant and Crevice mining districts, according to the Sierra Club. That prompted residents and local businesses to urge the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to withdraw the area's public lands from mining. In response, then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell imposed a two-year mining ban in the region, which was set to expire next month.
"This incredible victory for our first national park reminds us all that Yellowstone is more precious and valuable than gold," Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association, said in a press release Monday.
Pierno thanked Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Perdue for protecting the area from industrial gold mining.
"Their decision reflects the will of many and confirms that national parks can be a common ground in divided times," she said.
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
- Your Guide to Talking With Kids of All Ages About Climate Change ... ›
- 7 of the Best Ted Talks About Climate Change - EcoWatch ›
- Katharine Hayhoe Reveals Surprising Ways to Talk About Climate ... ›
An extremely rare North Atlantic right whale calf was found dead off the North Carolina coast on Friday.
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="24c36ab7f041f96875677ba1e9dc1944"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/CapeLookoutNPS/posts/3608024915884969"></div></div>
- 411 North Atlantic Right Whales Remain: This Solution Could Help ... ›
- Sixth North Atlantic Right Whale Found Dead Prompts Concern ... ›
- First North Atlantic Right Whale Calf of the Season Spotted off ... ›
By Andrea Germanos
A new report released Tuesday details the "shocking" state of global land equality, saying the problem is worse than thought, rising, and "cannot be ignored."
- We Need a Green New Deal for Farmland - EcoWatch ›
- The Netherlands Can Feed the World. Here's Why It Shouldn't ... ›
- The Key to Saving Family Farms Is in the Soil - EcoWatch ›
- Urban Farming Booms During Coronavirus Lockdowns - EcoWatch ›
In yet another attack on the environment before leaving office, the Trump administration is seeking to transfer ownership of San Carlos Apache holy ground in Oak Flat, Arizona, to a copper mining company.
- Mining Giant BHP Pauses Plans to Blast 40 Aboriginal Heritage Sites ›
- Mining Company CEO Forced to Resign After Blasting of 46,000 ... ›
- Rio Tinto Blasted Away an Ancient Aboriginal Site. Here's Why That ... ›