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Public Statements

Domestic Energy and Jobs Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. AMODEI. Mr. Chairman, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, in addition to developing our abundant oil and natural gas reserves, is also important for the purposes of recognizing another part of the energy sector, which are our mineral resources. An often-forgotten component of America's economic engine and comparative advantage over other nations is our mineral and, yes, coal production. Minerals and mine materials are the raw ingredients needed by every sector of our economy.

This amendment is simple. It would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from moving any aspect of the Solid Minerals program administered by the Bureau of Land Management and merging it with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, the OSM. This amendment is necessary because, currently, the administration continues to proceed with plans to combine these two entities despite the fact that it has met with heavy bipartisan resistance and also resistance from stakeholders, including, yes, even environmental groups.

Last year, Secretary Salazar announced his intent to combine the OSM and a portion of BLM's Solid Minerals program through a secretarial order. It appears to be in vogue these days--executive orders, secretarial orders. The problem missing here is: resort to Congress. Previous administrations have looked at this and have concluded in the record that congressional action is needed to do this. So here we are, trying to forestall yet another secretarial or executive order that flies in the face of congressional authority.

In March of this year, the Department of the Interior indicated a desire to continue to evaluate this. This will result in unnecessary costs to taxpayers as it is duplicative and flies in the face of previous administrations.

More importantly, OSM should not have the responsibility for leasing Federal coal. Under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, which was passed by this House, States are responsible for the permitting and the regulation of coal mining and abandoned-mine land cleanup. Additionally, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act expressly prohibits the commingling of employees of any Federal agency that promotes the development or use of coal--responsibilities of the Solid Minerals division of the BLM. It is a clear conflict of interest.

Finally, the OSM does not have offices in all Federal Western States, and hard-rock mining does not fall under their jurisdiction, nor does it have any experience in the broad range of mineral commodities regulated by the BLM.

I ask for the Chamber's support of this amendment that would stop the Department of the Interior from merging the operations of the BLM and OSM.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. AMODEI. Mr. Chairman, I would just say that the goal of the amendment is to keep from picking up the newspaper in the morning and reading about a secretarial or executive order that has combined two agencies that the record is replete with evidence that the executive branch and the Secretary does not have the authority to.

So when we talk about oversight and the proper thing to do in these instances and when we talk about debate it on its merits, as my colleague from the Bay State has indicated, I would love to do that. That requires that Congress act, not the Secretary of the Interior and not the President of the United States.

Thank you, and I yield back the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. AMODEI. Mr. Chairman, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, in addition to developing our abundant oil and natural gas reserves, is also important for the purposes of recognizing another part of the energy sector, which are our mineral resources. An often-forgotten component of America's economic engine and comparative advantage over other nations is our mineral and, yes, coal production. Minerals and mine materials are the raw ingredients needed by every sector of our economy.

This amendment is simple. It would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from moving any aspect of the Solid Minerals program administered by the Bureau of Land Management and merging it with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, the OSM. This amendment is necessary because, currently, the administration continues to proceed with plans to combine these two entities despite the fact that it has met with heavy bipartisan resistance and also resistance from stakeholders, including, yes, even environmental groups.

Last year, Secretary Salazar announced his intent to combine the OSM and a portion of BLM's Solid Minerals program through a secretarial order. It appears to be in vogue these days--executive orders, secretarial orders. The problem missing here is: resort to Congress. Previous administrations have looked at this and have concluded in the record that congressional action is needed to do this. So here we are, trying to forestall yet another secretarial or executive order that flies in the face of congressional authority.

In March of this year, the Department of the Interior indicated a desire to continue to evaluate this. This will result in unnecessary costs to taxpayers as it is duplicative and flies in the face of previous administrations.

More importantly, OSM should not have the responsibility for leasing Federal coal. Under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, which was passed by this House, States are responsible for the permitting and the regulation of coal mining and abandoned-mine land cleanup. Additionally, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act expressly prohibits the commingling of employees of any Federal agency that promotes the development or use of coal--responsibilities of the Solid Minerals division of the BLM. It is a clear conflict of interest.

Finally, the OSM does not have offices in all Federal Western States, and hard-rock mining does not fall under their jurisdiction, nor does it have any experience in the broad range of mineral commodities regulated by the BLM.

I ask for the Chamber's support of this amendment that would stop the Department of the Interior from merging the operations of the BLM and OSM.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. AMODEI. Mr. Chairman, I would just say that the goal of the amendment is to keep from picking up the newspaper in the morning and reading about a secretarial or executive order that has combined two agencies that the record is replete with evidence that the executive branch and the Secretary does not have the authority to.

So when we talk about oversight and the proper thing to do in these instances and when we talk about debate it on its merits, as my colleague from the Bay State has indicated, I would love to do that. That requires that Congress act, not the Secretary of the Interior and not the President of the United States.

Thank you, and I yield back the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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