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Witnesses lament EPA overreach during Congressional hearing

The government shutdown notwithstanding, mining experts took to Capitol Hill this week to share their concerns about the roadblocks they encounter in the form of often unnecessary and costly regulations, and even – in some cases – abusive actions on the part of the Obama Administration, with members of Congress.

During Thursday’s House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hearing titled “EPA vs. American Mining Jobs: The Obama Administration’s Regulatory Assault on the Economy,” Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources Deputy Commissioner Edmund Fogels outlined the challenges associated with federal agencies seeking to expand their mining regulations, which often results in redundant duplications of existing and well-functioning programs. Alaska leads the nation in the effort to act strategically on critical metals development; however, Fogels clearly recognizes that the state’s proactive approach is not widely shared.

He said:

“This duplication is not only inefficient, but it has real costs to the states and their residents who work to responsibly develop and protect natural resources.”

Fogels was joined by Chris Hamilton, West Virginia Coal Association’s Senior Vice President, who lamented the Administration’s obstructionist policies towards the coal mining industry, and Sheldon Maier from the Fortymile Coal Association in Alaska who provided insight into what ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty has called “Chicken-gate” – a heavy-handed and armed EPA-led raid of a mining site in Chicken, Alaska, to conduct “paperwork” inspections of permit compliance.

As Committee Chairman Doug Lamborn (R, Colo.) rightly pointed out during the meeting:

“At the heart of the issue is the lack of confidence in permitting by the federal government. If without proper cause, an agency can retroactively veto issued permits or prospectively veto permits not applied for, then how can any company, contractor or concessionaire have confidence to invest in America when their permit is not worth the paper it is written on.”

The sad and simple answer is, they can’t – and it’s time our policy makers begin to reform our onerous and rigid permitting system.

Click here for more information about the hearing and links to witnesses’ full remarks.