July 12, 2012(Key vote)
Title: National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012
Vote Smart's Synopsis:
Vote to pass a bill that authorizes the mining of certain minerals in National Forest lands and limits the mining permit review process to 30 months.
Authorizes the mining of “critical and strategic minerals” with a mineral exploration or mine permit on National Forest lands classified as principally recreational (Sec. 102).
Defines “critical and strategic minerals” as minerals necessary for national defense and security requirements, energy infrastructure, the support of domestic manufacturing, agriculture, housing, telecommunications, healthcare, transportation infrastructure, the nation's economic security, and balance of trade (Sec. 3).
Requires the lead agency responsible for issuing a mineral exploration or mine permit to appoint a project lead to coordinate with other agencies, reduce delays, and adhere to timelines (Sec. 102).
Defines “agency” as any agency, department, or other unit of the Federal, State, local or tribal government, or the Alaska Native Corporation (Sec. 3).
Requires the lead agency, at the request of a project proponent, to enter into an agreement with the project proponent specifying time limits for each part of the permit review process, limiting the total review process to 30 months (Sec. 102).
Requires the lead agency to ensure that actions taken upon the issuance of a mineral exploration or mine permit will not “significantly affect” the quality of the human environment (Sec. 102).
Requires the lead agency to maximize development of the mineral resource while minimizing environmental impacts when developing the mineral exploration or mine permit (Sec. 103).
Requires the lead agency to expand government coordination on issuing permits by implementing the following procedures (Sec. 102):
Avoiding duplicate reviews;
Minimizing paper work;
Deferring to baseline data performed by state agencies;
Conducting reviews concurrently rather than sequentially, when applicable; and
Engaging other agencies and stakeholders early in the process.
Specifies that this act applies to mineral exploration or mine permit applications previously submitted, if the applicant submits a written request to the lead agency (Sec. 102).
Requires the lead agency to exempt all areas of identified mineral resources in Land Use Designations with respect to the strategic and critical materials within a federally administered unit of the National Forest System (Sec. 102).
Authorizes the construction, operation and maintenance of routes and areas necessary for the mining of critical and strategic material (Sec. 102).
Prohibits initiation of a “covered civil action” later than 60 days from the date of the final Federal agency action to which it relates (Sec. 202).
Specifies a “covered civil action” as a civil action containing a claim regarding agency action affecting a mineral exploration or mine permit (Sec. 201).
Prohibits payment from the Federal Government to any party involved in a covered civil action for attorneys’ fees, expenses, and other court costs (Sec. 205).