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Tribes, environmentalists want feds to limit mines, push recycling

2021-10-02 07:03:15

A group of Hualapai and Yavapai people, American Indian Movement members and residents of Wikieup, Arizona, walked to BLM's field office in Kingman to protest a proposed lithium mine in the Big Sandy River watershed which they say would imperil water supplies and a significant cultural site, including the Hakumwe' spring, on Sept. 28, 2021.

A coalition of tribes and environmental groups asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to create new, stricter hard rock mining rules and to prioritize metal and rare earth recycling over mining.  

The aim is to recover materials from cast-off cell phones, computers, monitors and even consumer batteries, reducing the demand for new mining operations and the waste, pollution and other environmental impacts they leave behind. 

The group made use of a little-known provision in the federal Administrative Procedure Act, which gives an “interested person” the right to petition a federal agency to issue, amend or repeal a rule. 

The Clinton administration issued similar restrictions within the Interior Department in its closing days. But, the incoming Bush administration was quick to reverse the rule with just a few exceptions related to bonding and exploration notices.

The group also wrote that regulations to administer the General Mining Act of 1872’s provisions should be updated. The petition noted, for example, that the U.S. Forest Service’s mine permitting regulations have gone mostly unchanged since they were initially published in 1974.

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