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U.S. Representative: regulatory framework for mining permits hurts job creation, competitiveness

U.S. Representative Mike Amodei (R, Nev.), sponsor of a bill that seeks to reduce red tape for mining permits and reduce our over-reliance on foreign mineral resources, takes on the rigid U.S. permitting process in a column for the Reno Gazette Journal.

Invoking the authoritative Behre Dolbear “Country Rankings for Mining Investment” report, also dubbed “Where not to Invest,” explains that “[d]uplicative regulations, bureaucratic inefficiency and lack of coordination between federal agencies are threatening the economic recovery of our state and jeopardizing national security,” and that the outdated permitting system stands in the way of job creation.

Rep. Amodei argues that his legislation, H.R. 4402, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Act, would address some of the shortcomings of the current regulatory framework and aim to move the permitting process for mining projects along in two and a half years – without sacrificing environmental protections.

Here’s why this matters, and how it can be achieved, according to Rep. Amodei:

· Despite vast mineral resources beneath our soil, U.S. manufacturers are at the mercy of foreign suppliers when it comes to too many critical minerals, which are essential components of everything ranging from every-day household gadgets to renewable energy applications, medical equipment and military applications.

· Australia (with an average permitting timeline of 22.5 months) and Canada (with an average permitting timeline of 24 months) are cases in point that an effective permitting process does not mean sacrificing environmental protections.

· Contrasting sharply with the United States’ average permitting timeline of seven to ten years, Canada and Australia also attract a significantly higher percentage of the worldwide mineral exploration budget: While Canada attracts 18%, and Australia attracts 13%, the U.S. accounts for only 9 percent.

Ultimately, says Rep. Amodei:

“We are surrendering thousands of jobs with average salaries of $70,000 to $80,000 without putting up a fight. And we are leaving countless other American manufacturing jobs dependent on foreign countries because we are unwilling to cut red tape and allow federal land managers reasonable administrative guidelines to work with each other and all stakeholders.”

As the global race for mineral resources continues to heat up, the question is, whether the U.S. will finally get off the starting block.