Stakeholders Urge Admin to Scrap Obama Mineral Withdrawals

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04), Chief Infrastructure and Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Western. . .

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04), Chief Infrastructure and Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Western Caucus Member Tom Emmer (MN-06), and representatives for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the American Exploration & Mining Association, the National Mining Association, the American Resources Policy Network, the Arizona Mining Association, the Southern Arizona Business Association, the Yavapai Cattle Growers Association as well as Apache County Supervisor Doyel Shamley released the following statements after 23 Members of Congress sent a letter to President Trump and agency heads requesting that they initiate a comprehensive review of all mineral withdrawals implemented by the previous Administration – and reverse any that are shown to be without merit:

Chairman Paul Gosar stated, “Today, we implore this Administration to take a closer look at several improper mineral withdrawals that were planned behind closed doors and executed in unprecedented haste by the last Administration. These massive mineral estate removals proved devastating to local communities, imperiling good-paying jobs and shattering investor and mining company confidence. The Trump Administration has done an incredible job signalling that it supports responsible job creation and opposes arbitrary or political violations of the rule of law. The next natural step in acting on that agenda is to reverse these withdrawals in the Superior National Forest, Arizona Strip and Southwest Oregon regions – as well as any of the other Obama-era withdrawals the Administration deems unnecessary and harmful. President Trump: Believe it or not, some of our people still aren’t tired of wining. Do this, and you may get Rural America to love you even more than it already does.”   

Chief Infrastructure and Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman said, “Domestic minerals are critical to both our national security and economic well being. At no point should either be needlessly harmed for partisan gain. My colleagues and I encourage the swift and thorough review of these clearly political domestic mineral withdrawals.”

Congressman Emmer stated, “In their final hours, without hesitation or merit, the Obama Administration put thousands of jobs on notice, threatened the economic foundation of communities around the country, including in Minnesota, and took steps to make it harder for the United States to access minerals and materials critical to our national security. These actions blocked responsible projects from proving they can be done while protecting our environment. It’s time this Administration take a deeper look into these politically motivated moves. I look forward to swift action from the Department of Interior and the President to undo the damage of the former administration.” 

“With more than one-half of the U.S. mineral estate already off limits or subject to severe restrictions, allowing these withdrawals to remain will only increase our Nation’s reliance on foreign sources of strategic and critical minerals while shipping high paying jobs overseas,” said the American Exploration & Mining Association. 

“The negative effects of large-scale withdrawals of federal lands from mineral entry extend far beyond depressing mineral production in the United States. These withdrawals also destroy high-paying jobs, undermine rural economies, and contribute to locking up the vast federal estate.  Revoking the withdrawals made by the previous administration is a good first step, which should be followed by a comprehensive review of all the lands that have been withdrawn over many decades,” said, Myron Ebell, Director for the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“America’s supply chain is at risk thanks, in part, to political decision-making in recent years that had little to do with good stewardship and everything to do with short-term political expediency,” said Hal Quinn, President and CEO of the National Mining Association. “Despite being home to rich mineral deposits, less than half of the mineral needs of U.S. manufacturing are met domestically, leaving key domestic industries vulnerable to foreign sources. While some land withdrawals may be necessary, a comprehensive review of mineral withdrawals executed under the previous administration is merited given the unprecedented frequency and scope of past actions locking up important strategic resources.”

“Northern Arizona’s unique breccia pipe geological formations represent the nation’s largest source of high-grade uranium ore. The current reality is that America’s nuclear power industry imports approximately 92 percent of the uranium it uses from foreign sources. Given domestic availability of this uranium, importing this material defies all reason. America has more than enough uranium within our borders to supply our own needs. Responsible domestic uranium mining followed by reclamation will provide great benefits for our country’s electric power needs, local economies and the environment. America’s nuclear power plants are clean and release no carbon emissions, making these deposits in northern Arizona an almost perfect remedy for our electricity-dependent nation,” stated Steve Trussell, Executive Director of the Arizona Mining Association.

“If we do not repair the damages done by erroneous blockading of mineral utilization, this country will continue to allow itself to be subject to increased threats to our strategic position.  Further, failing to overturn political mineral withdrawals by the previous administration will block tens of thousands of jobs and cause significant harm to our economy,” said Doyel Shamley, Apache County Supervisor.

“Without a strong economic environment and self-sustaining resource development effort the US will not have the ability to lead and support the very freedoms that all want to embrace. The  withdrawal  of our much needed mineral resources by the previous administration leaves this country, the leader of freedom and environmental around the world vulnerable to governments that don’t respect the human or natural environment,” stated the Southern Arizona Business Coalition.

“In this day and age, and given our standing in the eyes of the world, it is ridiculous that we should be dependent on so many important minerals and subject to the whim of foreign countries when we can develop most of these resources right here in America. Accordingly, the Trump Administration should act to scrap political mineral withdrawals by the Obama Administration,” said Larry Parker, President of the Yavapai Cattle Growers Association.


Today, May 2, 2018, the Western Caucus led 23 Members of Congress in sending a letter addressed to President Trump, Secretaries Zinke and Perdue and U.S. Forest Service Acting Secretary Christiansen respectfully requesting that they initiate a comprehensive review of all mineral withdrawals implemented by the previous Administration, and that they reverse any withdrawals determined to be without merit or to have been initiated in order to block specific development. 

Members asked that a review confirm the withdrawals’ statutory compliance as well as consider their practicality, necessity and economic and national security impacts. 

Read the letter with all signers HERE.  

The prior Administration was responsible for more significant withdrawals of the federal mineral estate from exploration, location and entry than any other to date. Tens of millions of acres were withdrawn, with some of the most consequential actions coming at the very end of the Obama Administration in a flurry of rushed orders that wreaked devastation on the communities and companies that were abruptly targeted. 

Rather than there being a sudden, increased danger posed by mining that was entirely unknown prior to the last Administration’s arrival in 2008, it is clear from the Obama Administration’s land selection choices that they leveraged executive power to lock up land from legitimate development in order to appease environmentalist and other special interest demands. 

As House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop noted in a September 28, 2017 letter to Secretaries Zinke and Perdue, “Under the prior Administration, mineral access on Federal land was regularly and systemically blocked, harming our nation’s economic and strategic potential. Indeed, millions of acres of Federal lands were inappropriately withdrawn from mineral access due to false premises of environmental protectionism and the intentional misuse of statutory authority.” He also observes that these withdrawals seem to have been inconsistent with statutory requirements regarding mineral withdrawals under the Federal Land Management Policy Act (FLMPA), both in their size as well as by potentially failing to meet the FLMPA’s “consideration” standard for such withdrawals. 

It’s the long-stated position of the Trump Administration, on the other hand, that the United States must embark on a policy of securing the domestic production of critical and strategic minerals with sensitive supply chains in order to ward off foreign influence and control over our nation’s physical and economic security. 

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Letter signers (23): 
Paul Gosar, Tom Emmer, Bruce Westerman, Rob Bishop, Roger Marshall, Brian Babin, Doug LaMalfa, Chris Stewart, Jody Hice, Mark Amodei, Jackie Walorski, Ted S. Yoho, D.V.M., Mark Meadows, Scott Perry, Paul Cook, Alex X. Mooney, Randy Weber, Kevin Cramer, John Duncan, Jeff Duncan, Scott DesJarlais, Doug Lamborn, Ron Estes

Endorsed by: 
American Exploration & Mining Association, National Mining Association, Women’s Mining Coalition, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans for Limited Government, American Resources Policy Network, Alaska Miners Association, APEX, Arizona Mining Association, Arizona Pork Council, Arizona Rock Products Association, AZ BASS Nation, Bass Federation-AZ, Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce, Hudbay Rosemont Copper Project, Idaho Mining Association, Jobs For Minnesotans, MiningMinnesota, New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, New Mexico Wool Growers Inc., SRT Outdoors, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, Utah Mining Association, Yavapai Cattle Growers Association, Arizona  District 6 Senator Sylvia Allen and Yavapai County Supervisors Rowle Simmons and Thomas Thurman