The government says Washoe County went beyond its legal bounds earlier this year when it rejected a permit for a clay mine and cat litter plant north of Reno.
In an opinion requested by the Bureau of Land Management, federal lawyers argue that the Mining Law of 1872 bars local governments from restricting mining activity on federal land.
State BLM Director Bob Abbey says the brief is designed to reaffirm the government’s position it has pre-eminent authority in regulating mining on public land.
Chicago-based Oil-Dri of America is the world’s largest producer of cat litter. It wants to dig clay from two open pit mines on BLM land near Hungry Valley and to manufacture cat litter and other absorbent materials in a plant located on adjoining private land.
The company praises the brief.
Great Basin Mine Watch and the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony both oppose the mine and say the county acted appropriately.