At this time the withdrawal is only a proposal, not a final
action. It initiates a two-year environmental review period
("study period"), during which BLM will prepare an
Environmental Impact Statement and issue a final decision.
If BLM decides to proceed with the withdrawal after the study
period, that decision will withdraw up to 1,337,904 acres of public
lands from any location and entry under the United States mining
laws for 20 years. The final decision could withdraw fewer (but not
more) than the 1,337,904 acres identified in the proposal.
During the study period, which can last up to two years, the
notice has the effect of "segregating" the lands from
mineral entry. That is, even though the notice is just a proposal,
it automatically withdraws the 1,337,904 acres described in the
notice from mineral entry and location for the duration of the
study period, not to exceed two years.
If BLM decides not to proceed with the withdrawal, the acres
temporarily segregated during the study period will once again
become available for mineral location and entry.
The proposed withdrawal would, if finalized, prohibit location
and entry under the United States mining laws and regulations,
including the General Mining Law of 1872, the Surface Resources Act
of 1955, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, and
BLM's mining regulations (43 CFR Part 3800). The temporary
segregation of up to two years also affects location and entry
under these laws and regulations.
Neither the proposed withdrawal nor the temporary segregation
affects leasing under the mineral and geothermal leasing laws or
disposal under the mineral material sales laws (e.g., sand and
Are only new mining operations affected, or also existing
The proposed withdrawal and temporary segregation are subject to
"valid existing rights," meaning that they apply only to
new operations. However, existing operations may require a validity
determination to be considered exempt.
Operators should pay close attention to whether the proposed
withdrawal areas affect lands that are used (or might be used) for
site access, water development or conveyance, power lines,
expansion areas, or other uses. These uses may also be affected by
How long would the withdrawal last if it is finalized?
What options does the new administration and Congress
At the end of the study period, the new presidential
administration could decide to go forward with the withdrawal or
abandon it. Congress could step in and pass a law that prohibits or
restricts the withdrawal, even before the two-year study period is
What can you do?
The withdrawal notice starts a two-year study period, during
which BLM will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement
("EIS") under the National Environmental Policy Act
("NEPA"). BLM has provided a 90-day initial
("Scoping") comment period on the issues to be considered
in the EIS. Scoping comments must be submitted to BLM on or before
March 28, 2017.
You may also contact your congressional representatives.
Where should you turn for more information or help?
If you have questions about how the proposed withdrawal affects
you or what you can do about it, we encourage you to contact us. We
are public land lawyers who know how to assess and address the
impacts of BLM policies and decisions on mining operations. We are
intimately familiar with the BLM, mining laws, DRECP, and
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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