Thursday, July 12, 2012

National Strategic & Critical Minerals Production Act

The House on Wednesday afternoon approved a rule setting up debate and a vote on a bill aimed at streamlining the permitting process for the mining of rare-earth minerals. Members voted 245-180 in favor of the rule, and the House is expected to approve the bill Thursday.

Republicans say the bill is needed because the United States is increasingly reliant on imported minerals that are widely seen as key to manufacturing health and national security. The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act, H.R. 4402, notes that 67 key minerals are obtained mostly through imports, more than twice the number from 25 years ago. The GOP says permitting delays in the name of environmental protection have delayed the domestic development of these minerals.

The bill streamlines the permitting approval process, and is aimed at putting limits on lawsuits against efforts to mine these minerals, which Bishop said are often "frivolous law suits" meant to delay the permitting process.

Most Democrats are likely to oppose the bill, in part because of the possible environmental consequences.  Dems believe the bill appears to streamline the permitting process for mining that does not involve strategic minerals.  (The Hill, 7/11/2012)

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