WASHINGTON – In an effort to head off conflict between mining claims and the development of wind and solar energy generation on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management plans to prohibit new mining claims on land proposed for renewable projects.
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Current law stipulates the agency can not segregate land identified in alternative energy development right-of-way applications from new mining claims. The fear is that speculators will file mining claims in areas covered by an alternative energy right-of-way application to extort payment from wind and solar energy developers to drop the claim.
“The potential for such a situation exists because, while it is relatively easy and inexpensive to file a mining claim, it can be difficult, time-consuming, and costly to prove that the mining claim was not properly filed or does not contain a valid discovery,” the BLM said in a statement.
In 2009-2010, 437 new mining claims were filed on public lands in several western states, after those areas were included in wind energy right-of-way applications. Another 216 new claims were filed on lands after they were included in solar energy right-of-way applications.
The proposed rule would not affect existing rights in mining claims located before the rule is adopted and would affect mining claims on right-of-way applications for uses other than wind or solar energy facilties.