Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone

Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeAlaska oil and gas lease sale nets .5 million Former Koch adviser to oversee Interior Department's FOIA requests The Year Ahead: Dems under pressure to deliver on green agenda 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 JewellOvernight Energy: Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone | UN report offers dire climate warning | Trump expected to lift ethanol restrictions Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone Blind focus on ‘energy dominance’ may cripple Endangered Species Act 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.