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National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act reintroduced

U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei (R, Nev.) has reintroduced his critical minerals legislation. Identical to last year’s bill (H.R. 4402), which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in the summer but stalled in the U.S. Senate, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013 (H.R. 761) would:

  • Require the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture to more efficiently develop domestic sources of strategic and critical minerals and mineral materials; including rare earth elements;
  • Define strategic and critical minerals as those necessary:
    • (a) for national defense and national security requirements;

      (b) for the nation’s energy infrastructure including pipelines, refining capacity, electrical power generation and transmission, and renewable energy production;

      (c) to support domestic manufacturing, agriculture, housing, telecommunications, healthcare and transportation infrastructure; and

      (d) for the nation’s economic security and balance of trade;
  • Facilitate timely permitting process for mineral exploration and mine development projects by clearly defining the responsibilities of a lead agency; and
  • Ensure American mineral mining projects are not indefinitely delayed by frivolous lawsuits by setting reasonable time limits for litigation.

The bill ties into the overall context of mineral resource security and our growing minerals deficit, an issue we have covered extensively in the past – most recently in the Wall Street Journal. Invoking a study we have frequently cited in our own publications -the renowned Behre Dolbear “Where Not to Invest” report – Rep. Amodei points out, that “[i]n the 2012 ranking of countries for mining investment, the United States ranked last in permitting delays,” and goes on to explain that “[d]ecade-long permitting delays are standing in the way of high-paying jobs and revenue for local communities. This bill would streamline the permitting process to leverage our nation’s vast mineral resources, while paying due respect to economic and environmental concerns.”

Perhaps pointing to increased momentum and greater awareness of the seriousness of the underlying issue, with 28 co-sponsors having signed onto the legislation, this year’s bill already has more original co-sponsors than the final total number of sponsors of H.R. 4402 last year (27). It has been referred to the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on the Judiciary, where hearings are yet to be scheduled.