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Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone

Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court sets in motion EPA ban on pesticide linked to developmental issues | Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again | Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again MORE acted Monday to ban mining in a 30,000-acre spot near Yellowstone National Park, saying it’s not an appropriate spot for mineral extraction.

The area in the southwestern part of Zinke’s home state of Montana is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, and its mineral rights are managed by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Zinke’s order, announced in Montana, bans all mineral extraction, including drilling and gold and silver mining, except for any preexisting claims, for 20 years, the maximum allowable by law. It extends a previous two-year ban, set to expire next month, that former Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten key air pollution standards | Despite risks to polar bears, Trump pushes ahead with oil exploration in Arctic | Biden to champion climate action in 2021 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA proposes reapproving uses of pesticide linked to brain damage in children | Hispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham | Schwarzenegger backs Nichols to lead EPA MORE put in place to study a longer-term ban.

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Despite an all-out push by the Trump administration to increase domestic fossil fuel production, including undoing some land protections elsewhere in the country, Zinke said such activities are not appropriate in the Paradise Valley area.

“Access to public lands and water has allowed the Paradise Valley to build a world-class hunting, fishing, tourism and recreation economy. Whether it's enjoying the natural hot springs, fly fishing the Yellowstone, or hiking up Emigrant Peak, there's no shortage of ways to enjoy this beautiful region,” he said in a statement.

“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. 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 ban was spurred by recent exploration on nearby private land and fears that developing those areas could lead to mining on the federal land. The Montana Mining Association opposes the withdrawals and argued that mining could co-exist with recreation and other land uses.

But the mining ban had widespread bipartisan support, including from state lawmakers and Montana’s entire delegation to Congress, who have sponsored legislation to make the ban permanent.