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27. What are cumulative impacts?
The CEQ regulations define cumulative impacts as follows:
Cumulative impacts are impacts on the cavironment which result from the incremental impact of the actioa when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time. (Sec 40 CFR 1508.7.)
What needs to be contained in a record of decision for locatable minerals proposals?
The record of decision should identify the decision, the alternatives considered, and the selected alternative, and mitigation measures It should also discuss the factors which were balanced by the agency in making its decisioa". (See 40 CFR 1505.21 Wild mining oriented proposals
, the record of decision should identify whether or not the proponcat's preferred alternative will create unnecessary and undue degradation
Under what cooditions should the BLM approve a plan of operations?
The BLM should approve a plan of operation if it will not:
2 Cause 'unnecessary or undue degradation.' [See Section 302 (b) of FLPMA
and 43 CFR 3809.1-6(1).J b. Conflict with or violate substantive cavironmental low (eg Clean Air Act,
Clean Water Ach, Endangered Species Act, Solid Waste Management Act) and executive actions. (Sec 43 CFR 3809.2-2)
Conflict with or violate treaties (eg Migratory Birds Treaty). Where coaslices exist the BLM will modify the plan to eliminate the conflict and require the operator to accept the modifications as a condition of approval
Con eke BLM cooperate wib other Federal, State and local agencies in preparing an EA
31. Can BLM use an EA, EIS or equivalent stale document prepared by an another Federal,
Suate or local agency to satisfy NEPA if it did not formally cooperate in preparation of document?
Yes, if BLM formally adopes the documeal Procedures for adoption are set forth in
Mr. RaHALL. So I would just present that to say that what is in section 203, despite what is often portrayed by some in the industry, does reflect current law. Do you wish to make a comment on it? If not, I have one final question.
Mr. KNEBEL. Mr. Chairman, section 203 is basically an iteration of the FLPMA, and I think Director Jamison has answered you correctly. It is our concern that we have a reiteration that is duplicative.
Mr. RAHALL. Well, you know, that is now another new accusation against this section that we have come across in today's hearing. But the standard charge against it has been that it is a whole new regime or that it has just totally been portrayed out of context of what it actually is.
I have one final question for you, Mr. Delcour.
Mr. DELCOUR. Too, we have to read section 203 in connection with 201. The two have to be read together to measure the relationship between the land-use planning provisions and the approval of plans of operations. I think at the present what is new about your proposal, what doesn't reflect existing law is the fact that the two have to be considered in tandem. It is true that under FLPMA and the comparable Forest Service governing law examination of minerals, known mineral issues are to be addressed. But what isn't done now is there is no requirement in advance of approving a plan of operations that certain specific land-use planning analyses be undertaken. It seems to me the bill does require that, and that is the aspect which causes us concern. That is to say, that we read your bill to enable or indeed to require that the land manager hold plan of operations approval hostage to the completion of certain statutory obligations in connection with the land-use planning process. That is our concern.
Mr. RAHALL. Well, let me respond to that, and just ask-
Mr. RAHALL. Well, it is my impression that linkage would actual. ly give you a break. But let me refer you back to the question we submitted to you in writing and ask that you look at that.
Mr. DELCOUR. Fine.
Mr. RAHALL. OK. One further question. You allege that under section 204 of the bill, theoretically it is possible that any tract of public land would be withdra yn from location.
Mr. DELCOUR. Yes.
Mr. RAHALL. This is, however, already the case under current law. The Federal Register, on an almost daily basis, carries a notice that under the authority granted to the Interior Secretary by sec. tion 204 of FLPMA, BLM is withdrawing land from location while keeping it open to leasing.
Mr. DELCOUR. Yes.
Mr. RAHALL. In fact, BLM personnel have admitted to the subcommittee staff that if they want to just say so to mining, they employ one of two strategies: they withdraw the land using FLPMA authority or they designate it as an area of critical environmental concern. So I would submit that your comment on the bill is actually a commentary on the current way the BLM does
business. I would also submit to you that this is a concern. That it is one of the reasons that I have been pressing for adequate landuse plans to be done up front. Do you have a comment?
Mr. DELCOUR. Yes, I do, Mr. Chairman. I read section 204 to say that the following lands shall not be open to location or lands that may hereafter be withdrawn. Any land, any parcel of land may hereafter be withdrawn, and I read this language to say it is closed today.
As I indicated in my testimony, I think this just may be a drafting error, that that is not your intention, but it is a serious one that needs attention. I suspect what you may be intending to say in item 4 is lands that are hereafter withdrawn, rather than lands that may be hereafter withdrawn. Mr. RAHALL. That may be accurate. Mr. DELCOUR. That was the only point in the testimony. Mr. RAHALL. OK. So we change may" to "are" in line 18? Mr. DELCOUR. Yes. I think that is a very significant change. Mr. RAHALL. OK. I have no further questions. Thank you. The gentlelady from Nevada.
Mrs. VUCANOVICH. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I just wanted to make one comment about the citizen suits that was being discussed.
When we were in Fairbanks we heard from placer miners whose operations were clearly shut down pending BLM's completion of a cumulative impacts EIS because of a third-party lawsuit. If your atizen suit provision restricted this from occurring in the future, I would be very supportive. I think the citizen suit is a big concern to me. But it does happen and mining is stopped because of citizen suits.
Mr. Wright, in my State I have lots of small miners and I know that they are not myths. But I am sort of interested in your talking about the oil companies. They might take exception to the fact that you said that oil was very easy to find. That would be disputed by the oilmen, I am sure.
AMC has testified that a study of the economic impacts of HR. 9.8 is underway. Do you know if small miners such as yourself have been or will be asked to enumerate the impacts on your size business?
Mr. WRIGHT. As small miners, I am not part of any organization here today or represent small miners. I am with 49 grocers and merchants and claim holders that helped send me. I am not qualified to answer that because I don't know. But the answer is still, i don't know.
Mrs. VUCANOVICH. Fine. I am going to ask Jack Knebel anyway. I think all of us look forward to the economic impacts study on this bill, and my senses tell me that the results will tell us what everybody already knows. That this bill will have grave consequences for the mining industry and State and local economies.
Do you have a timeline on when we could expect to see the rerules of the study?
Mr. KNEBEL Yes, ma'am. We anticipate seeing the preliminary findings mid to late July and a final report this fall.
In answer to your prior question which you directed to my colleague here at the table, we do have some small companies included in the study and the analysis. We do not have at the present time any individual prospectors or single operators. It is a little bit hard to get the economic data required on an individual basis.
Mrs. VUCANOVICH. Is this the same Coopers & Lybrand audit that Mr. Steve Alfers testified about in the Senate Energy Committee last week?
Mr. KNEBEL. That is correct. And we have gotten our companies as well as a lot of related companies involved in this, and we are underwriting this. Coopers & Lybrand is going to keep it very objective and impartial so that it won't be subject to criticism.
Mrs. VUCANOVICH. I would be interested in hearing and seeing what the results are.
Mr. Delcour, you mentioned the COSMAR study. Is there any reason to believe that its conclusions from 12 years ago are any less valid today?
Mr. DELCOUR. None that I am aware of.
Mrs. VUCANOVICH. I have a copy of it up here and it made some very interesting conclusions, and they should be valid, I would think.
Mr. Neff, you are from Spokane
Mr. DELCOUR. In fact, Congresswoman, I would think as other en. vironmental regulations have been ratcheted down in the intervening years that the points, the conclusions in that report would be even stronger today than they would have been at the time the report was prepared.
Mrs. VUCANOVICH. Yes. Well, I was just commenting because, you know, in our State—it is for many reasons, but our State has passed very tough reclamation laws. And I feel very strongly that these are necessary and the State should do those things if they are impacted. There are a lot of miners in my State who weren't thrilled, but I think it is important that we do something about reclamation. But, of course, the Mining Law is not a reclamation law.
Mr. Neff, you are from Spokane, so I expect that you have some familiarity with Canadian Federal and provincial mining laws. Would you be in a position to tell us how they promote hardrock mining there? In other words, is there something that miners get from their government in return for paying a royalty? Is there some involvement in their government?
Mr. Neff. I do not consider myself an expert on it at all. However, they have a continuing vacillating program in Canada which basically rises out of initiation of claims by location at one point, and then we have had heavy involvement in Canada over the last couple of decades on tax concessions, all types of other incentives to bring mineral development to the point of production. This varies almost by the times that the Parliament meets up there in each province. Sometimes it is very favorable. Sometimes it is not at all
. But, in general, the climate for prospecting and exploration is much better in Western Canada than it is in the United States at the present time. Mrs. VUCANOVICH. Well, I thank you, gentlemen I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.