Today, U.S. Representative Chip Cravaack (MN) offered an amendment to H.R. 4402, National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012, which would provide a guaranteed time frame for the permitting process for mineral exploration. Specifically, thirty months would be given to complete the permitting process, which can currently take upwards of ten years.
Importantly, the Cravaack amendment, which was adopted by the House unanimously, would allow mining projects that have already applied for a permit, and are currently in the permitting process, access to the new expedited procedures under H.R. 4402.
PolyMet Mining initiated an environmental review of its proposed NorthMet copper and nickel mine in 2005. The Cravaack amendment would ensure that such projects are given a firm timeline that workers, communities, and families can count on.
"H.R. 4402 is a common sense, pro-growth piece of legislation that would simply facilitate a timely permitting process for very important mining projects throughout the United States. My amendment falls along the same common sense thinking that the underlying bill comes from -- that 30 months is plenty of time to complete the total review process for permitting a mine," said Rep. Cravaack.
"People's lives are on hold, futures have been put on hold, and school funds are on hold. People without jobs are waiting for work. Special interest groups are fighting to block the creation of mining jobs, and in the Eighth District, these mining jobs are needed to put food on the table. Special interests are saying that 10 years of waiting is not enough - the U.S. won World War II in less than 4 years. And incidentally, it was Iron Range mining that provided the steel for U.S. tanks, guns, and vehicles. I urge the Senate to take action on this very important piece of legislation," Cravaack added.
H.R. 4402 would give agencies the ability to cut through bureaucratic red-tape, duplicative reviews, and enhance government coordination. Additionally, the bill would direct agencies to mitigate environmental impacts while developing America's mineral resources, and ensure American mineral mining projects are not indefinitely delayed by frivolous lawsuits. These steps will allow the United States to more efficiently develop the nation's strategic and critical minerals that are vital to job creation, American economic competitiveness, and national security.
Critically, H.R. 4402 maintains full compliance with existing environmental regulations. The bill gives the lead agency the ability to waive duplication if the agency determines the state and federal safeguards are sufficient. Specifically, all existing environmental regulations must meet current federal standards, although certain state standards currently exceed federal standards. In such instances, the federal permitting process could be waved to avoid duplication.
Rep. Cravaack serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee -- where he is Vice Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee -- the Homeland Security Committee, and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. The 8th Congressional District covers 18 counties in Northeast Minnesota.