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Alt. Energy Generation to Trump New Mining Claims

WASHINGTON (CN) - To reduce 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 these developments.

Under current public land laws, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can not segregate land identified in alternative energy development right-of-way applications from new mining claims.

The BLM is afraid 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 the last two years, 437 new mining claims were made on public lands in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming 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.

In the Energy Policy Act of 2005 Congress required to Department of the Interior to approve at least 10,000 megawatts of non-hydropower renewable energy projects by 2015.

Showing the hold mining still has on public land use laws, even under the act, the BLM can not allow surface uses of land that would "endanger or materially interfere with a properly located mining claim."

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