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Public Statements

National Strategic And Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. AMODEI. I thank my colleague from the Beehive State.

I want to start out with, obviously, support for the rule. I think the rule is very open in the context of the legislation.

For those that haven't reviewed the legislation, it's about 11 1/2 pages long. It's available out here; it's available online. I recommend you to do it. Because when we talk about what it really does, it's not a wheel of giveaways. When you talk about strategic and critical minerals, here are some words from the bill: ``Strategic and critical minerals means minerals that are necessary.''

Here's some thoughts to ponder: national defense and national security. Now, do you know what those minerals were 10 years ago, and do you know what they're going to be 10 years from now? It's not meant to be as specific--and my colleague from Colorado is absolutely right, these are broad definitions because, you know what, we don't do this every day. We're not going to check this every year and spend time like this on it. So when you talk about some flexibility there, it's not an accident; it's supposed to be broad.

Here's another thing: strategic and critical. How about the Nation's energy infrastructure? Kind of important if you care about things like energy, regardless of what side of the fence you're on.

A couple other things. Strategic and critical, those minerals, to--here it is out of the bill--support domestic manufacturing. Oh, my goodness. How about support agriculture? Don't care about that.

How about support housing, telecommunications? There was a mention of health care. Are those strategic and critical for the lifestyle or the health and welfare of this Nation?

Strategic and critical. Transportation infrastructure. Oh, and the last couple of things, the Nation's economic security and balance of trade. God forbid that we think about those things when we talk about the minerals industry. Are those broad? They absolutely are.

But here's the part that nobody mentions. There is nothing in those 11 1/2 pages that say that a Federal land manager can't, in response to an application, say, my first finding is that it is not a critical and strategic mineral.

So if somebody comes in for sand and gravel, and it's not that important, then guess what? Under the regulations that the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior are doing, I assume they'll give them the ability to make that finding. And if somebody doesn't like it, under this bill they've got 60 days to sue them on it. But we don't want you to know that because we're going to spin wheels and talk about the giveaway of the day.

By the way, while we're giving stuff away, please show me in the bill where it says that you get a certain result?

And when we talk about reducing the time, this says, both sides can execute agreements that say 30 months. Okay? Guess what? It also says, oh, by the way, if both sides agree, you can extend the 30 months. Now, for those who are familiar with the process and how that works, tell me how an applicant is benefited by a nice, crisp 30-month ``no.''

So if there's an issue about water quality, or there's an issue about anything that is being talked about--oh, and can I see the repeal sections on NEPA? I don't see that language in here.

You know, I don't envy Federal land use managers. It's a tough job. And when you look at this, see the red? That's federally-owned property. This is to talk about the time it takes to process a permit request to mine on federally-owned property.

So, with all due respect, and plenty of respect for my colleague from Colorado, who's in this, knows it, 36 percent of his State is federally owned, no disrespect to the birthday boy who's somewhere south of 1 percent.

When you talk about economic development, regardless of whether you're riding an elephant or a donkey, guess what? This complicates it. So, when you talk to those Federal land use managers locally and you talk about things, just a couple more things here, because we can't have this. I mean, this is awful stuff. If we talk about enhanced government coordination, permitting review, engage other agencies and stakeholders early in the process, coordinate and consult with project proponents and opponents. I mean, I'm sorry.

And by the way, where's the part in the NEPA bill that was enacted in 1969 that said what we're really trying to do here is see how long you can wait with that application pending?

So guess what? If you get a ``no,'' you get it in 30 months. Or if there are legitimate issues that aren't taken care of in 30 months, why wouldn't you, as an applicant, say, you know what? We'll execute something, as provided in this bill, to say you get six more months. Going off to court is not the optimal thing for anybody.

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Mr. AMODEI. We talk about additional giveaways or whatever. Nobody gets anything out of this other than they get a time certain in the review
process. And if there's more time needed, then guess what? It provides for that.

What's the idea here? Collaboration between Federal land managers and stakeholders, all stakeholders. If you're an applicant, you want a ``yes,'' but there's no magic in getting a 30-month ``no.''

My final point is this. When you talk about the changes that have been made by the present administration in permitting time, I find it incredibly interesting to hear in committee that that permitting time was actually less than what this proposes.

This cuts nobody off. It's a good place to talk, and it gets rid of the part that is never in NEPA, which is, we're going to outwait you and hope you go away.

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