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SCOTUS begins issuing new opinions, with another expected related to the power of federal agencies, the battleground state of Wisconsin gets a ruling on alternative voting sites, and coastal work is being done to help salt marshes withstand hurricanes.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Groups Fight Proposed Mining Exploration Near Death Valley

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Wednesday, March 2, 2022   

Local environmental groups are voicing their concerns about a proposed mining exploration project about two miles west of California's Death Valley.

The company Mojave Precious Metals wants to drill more than 100 holes to look for gold at Conglomerate Mesa, and to revive some roads in what is now considered a roadless landscape.

Kayla Browne, desert-lands organizer for the group Friends of the Inyo, said the area is important to migrating mule deer and is prime habitat for the Townsend's western big-eared bat and the Inyo rock daisy.

"This particular daisy is only found in the southern Inyo Mountains," she said, "and specifically Conglomerate Mesa and Cerro Gordo."

The Bureau of Land Management soon will release an environmental analysis. The agency previously allowed helicopter-based drilling and now will decide whether to permit more of the same. On its website, Mojave Precious Metals said it would comply with "regulations that require projects to avoid unnecessary and undue environmental degradation."

Browne acknowledged that the BLM has to take into consideration an 1872 mining law that allows prospecting on public lands and allows companies to stake claims.

"There are a lot of environmental groups that are trying to get that law changed," she said, "because in 1872, mining was very different than what it is today. They weren't industrial-scale, heavy machinery, large open-pit like they are now."

The lands are part of the traditional homeland of the Timbisha-Shoshone and the Paiute-Shoshone Native American tribes. In a statement, the tribes said they're disappointed in the way the prior drilling was carried out, and vow to oppose any future development.

Disclosure: Friends of the Inyo contributes to our fund for reporting on Endangered Species & Wildlife, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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