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Mining Legislation News - Archive

DAINES, CROW TRIBE CHAIRMAN TESTIFY ON IMPORTANCE OF DEVELOPING MONTANA COAL FOR ECONOMY, ENERGY INDEPENDENCE

  WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steve Daines and Crow Tribe Chairman Darrin Old Coyote today spoke before a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on Powder River Basin coal mining, citing its economic benefits to Montana and the Crow Tribe and the importance of responsible coal development in maintaining an affordable source of energy for American families and small businesses.
Videos from the hearing are below. Thanks to Chairman Old Coyote for testifying!
 SD statement: http://youtu.be/J7q2beKAHMI
Chairman statement: http://youtu.be/Ta5G5EI3JR4
Q&A: http://youtu.be/7Qiod0M5Jlw

Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight Hearings on Mining in America: The Administration’s Use of Claim Maintenance Fees and Cleanup of Abandoned Mine Lands.”

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hold two oversight hearings on June 13th and June 20th to examine mining in America and bureaucratic hurdles imposed by the Obama Administration that block jobs and mineral security. See the Committee Calendar

House Passes Northern Route Approval Act to Build the Keystone XL Pipeline

 On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to approve H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act. This bill would remove roadblocks to allow for the approval and construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. It would create thousands American jobs, invest billions of dollars into our economy, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has repeatedly and inexplicably delayed approval of the pipeline for years.

"Sue and Settle" U.S. Chamber of Commerce

As part of the Chamber’s ongoing strategy to initiate reform of the federal rulemaking process, on Monday, May 20th, we released the report Sue and Settle: Regulating Behind Closed Doors (click here to download report).  

The “sue and settle” process, where environmental advocacy groups sue federal agencies to issue regulations by a specific deadline, is being abused, resulting in interested parties being shut out of regulatory decisions by key federal agencies, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The report is the most comprehensive list of sue and settle cases and statistics assembled, and their regulatory and financial impact, as well as the courts and environmental groups that are most active in this process. 

WSJ Article - Sue & Settle

House Natural Resources Commmittee Marks up 18 bills.

Natural Resources Committee marked up 18 bills on Wednesday, May 15. See a list of the bills here.

Committee on Natural Resources Members Launch Endangered Species Act Working Group

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 9, 2013 - Members of the House of Representatives, representing a broad geographic range, today announced the creation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Working Group. This Working Group, led by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings and Western Caucus Co-Chair Cynthia Lummis, will examine the ESA from many angles. More

Women's Mining Coalition opposes Senator Roberson's mining tax (Nevada)

Senator Roberson’s mining tax is a penalty on rural communities and counties.  Misdirected senators, mainly residing in Clarke Co. and led by Senator Roberson, have devised a penalizing plan, singling out mining—gold and silver only—proposing a jobs- and industry-killing tax. This is not a fair solution for the state. Read More

WMC member and 2012 Fly-In participant, Mossy Kessinger, testified at the Subcommittee on Energy and Power field hearing on Monday, July 16, 2012 in Abingdon, Virginia. The hearing was a continuation of the American Energy Initiative, with a focus on EPA's proposed Greenhouse Gas New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for utilities and the impact this regulation would have on jobs.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73YriFFlHDg&feature=youtu.be

Natural Resource Committee - Obama Administration's Effort to Rewrite Regulations on Coal Production. Points include:

Sage Grouse Report and FAQ - Sept 6, 2012
The Sage Grouse draft report was recently issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It is designed to help guide the efforts of the States and other partners to conserve the greater sage-grouse with a landscape-level strategy that will benefit the species while maintaining a robust economy in the West.

The report, prepared by state and federal scientists and sage-grouse experts, identifies the conservation status of the sage-grouse, the nature of the threats facing the species, and objectives to ensure its long-term conservation. The Service has asked the Greater Sage-grouse Task Force to provide their comments on the draft report, which will be evaluated together with the scientific peer review comments.

The draft report is a collaborative state and federal effort to evaluate species conservation before the Service is required to make a decision in 2015 on whether to propose protecting the species under the Endangered Species Act. The draft report has been submitted for scientific peer review, the results of which are due to the Service in the fall.
Sage Grouse Noise Study

Government Lab Finds Wind Energy Not Meeting Carbon Emission Goals
June 8, 2012. Argonne National Laboratory, under the stewardship of the Department of Energy, just released a study that found wind energy does not reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation as much as expected due to the need to ramp up fossil fuel plants when the wind is not blowing. It takes more energy and thus more carbon dioxide emissions to ramp a coal plant up and down than if the same coal plant is operated at a continuous, efficient base-load level. This is not a new finding. … more …


H.R. 6160, the Rare Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act
WASHINGTON, September 30, 2010 – The House on Wednesday approved H.R. 6160, the Rare Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act, by a vote of 325 to 98. The bill authorizes research to address the supply scarcity of rare earth minerals, a category of materials key to a wide range of applications in fields such as energy, military, electronic and manufacturing technologies.

Rare earths are necessary components of advanced technologies as wind turbines, hybrid-vehicle batteries, weapons guidance systems, oil refining catalysts, computer disk drives, televisions and monitors, compact fluorescent light bulbs, fiber-optic cable and other electronic goods.

“We must take steps to recapture our technological lead in a wide range of industries critical to our economic health, our national defense, and a clean and secure energy future,” said Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon, D-Tenn.

Bill author Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa., said: “We need to act now to begin the process of creating our own supply of rare earth materials so the United States is never dependent on China—or on any other country—for crucial components for our national security, adding that “We want to ultimately create a domestic supply chain of rare earths to promote U.S. global competitiveness and ensure technologies for our national defense and other industries are made in America.”

 

Environmentalists back on defense
By: Darren Samuelsohn
September 20, 2010 04:34 AM EDT

Environmentalists are bracing for a fight that would have seemed preposterous after the 2008 elections: a move to limit the government’s ability to curb greenhouses gases and global warming.

Even the proposal’s sponsor — a Democrat — cuts against the story line that predicted the Democratic takeover of Washington would finally lead to action on climate change.

But the push by West Virginia Sen. John Rockefeller to restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to force reductions in carbon dioxide emissions illustrates how dramatically the environmental community’s fortunes have fallen despite the rise of allies in the White House and Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised Rockefeller a fall floor vote on his plan to block EPA’s climate rules for two years. Green groups are monitoring that effort — and similar ones by Senate Republicans like Kit Bond of Missouri — in a constant struggle to stay one step ahead of agency opponents.

Just last week, environmentalists and the Obama administration dodged a bullet when the Senate Appropriations Committee canceled a markup of EPA’s spending bill, in which agency foes could have the votes to cut off climate funds for at least one year.

“That’s a vulnerability — and a significant one,” said an environmentalist of the spending committee’s composition.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the subpanel that oversees EPA’s budget, refused to handicap the prospects for any climate rider. “It’s very squirrelly,” she said Thursday. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

Dozens of industry trade groups are leaning on the Senate to clamp down on EPA and leave the legislative heavy lifting on climate change to a future session of Congress.

“A vote to delay pending EPA greenhouse gas emissions [rules] will provide Congress the opportunity to develop sound policy approaches to address greenhouse gas emissions, rather than default to a poorly designed EPA regulatory approach,” Michael Morris, CEO of American Electric Power and a representative of the Business Roundtable, said last week in a letter to senators.

The greens are fighting back.

The Natural Resources Defense Council last week released a poll that found 72 percent of Americans “strongly” or “somewhat” support EPA’s authority to “take steps that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric utilities and other major industrial polluters.”

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is also stepping in, saying agency regulations won’t be anywhere near as cumbersome as industry warns, in part due to a recent policy she signed that limits regulations to only the nation’s largest emission sources.

“The Clean Air Act does not require EPA to act in a reckless and irresponsible manner,” Jackson said at an event celebrating the Clean Air Act’s 40th anniversary. “We will proceed carefully through the series of sensible steps that I have been describing publicly since my confirmation hearing 20 months ago.”

Aside from playing defense, the greens’ only hope for a major legislative victory rests with a lame-duck session, and even then, their goals — a renewable electricity standard (RES) and a response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill — are a far cry from the wish lists of January 2009.

The House has done its part to pass a range of energy and climate bills, including the cap-and-trade measure in June 2009, but almost all will die barring Senate action this fall. And any progress there depends on who comes out on top in November.

Several sources tracking the energy debate doubt an incoming Republican majority would give the green light to last-minute measures passing into law before the party officially takes over in January.

“Why is it in their interests to let that go?” asked Nikki Roy, federal policy director at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “Why not hold it for another six months and see if it can go on their watch?”

For now, Reid has said he would build legislation around incentives for natural gas vehicles and “Home Star” energy-efficiency programs. But he’s also under pressure from clean energy advocates to include a national RES.

Democrats also have the election in mind as they talk about energy and climate bills coming up after November. Despite the long-shot odds of success, political observers say Reid and company are thinking about voter turnout as they continue to beat the drum on their agenda’s prospects.

“It’s prudent that the Democrats keep talking about action on those items to keep the base interested and coming out and supporting them in the fall elections,” said a former Senate Democratic aide. “I hate to say it, but I think it’s true.”

Reid has gone back and forth on the RES, opening the door over the recess when he said there were a couple of Republicans in play and that he would “absolutely” consider adding the language to a lame-duck energy bill.

But many doubt Democratic leaders have any realistic chance of getting the RES signed into law in a lame-duck session. If partisan politics don’t squash a deal, regional energy politics will.

“Passing a RES has the same chances as doing immigration reform this fall,” the former aide said. “It’s next to impossible.”

“I’m glad people are still talking about it,” said Chelsea Maxwell, who served as top energy and climate staffer to former Sen. John Warner (R-Va.). “But I feel like I’ve been around long enough to have a healthy sense of skepticism that there’s time to get anything done.”

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), one of the RES’s most vocal proponents, thinks November or December could be a good time to act. “The clock is running for the next three to four weeks, and there’s no realistic chance of an energy proposal coming to the floor,” Udall told POLITICO, adding, “I know it’s very much in discussion for the lame duck.”

Any talk of a lame-duck RES depends on the cooperation of retiring or moderate Republican senators like Sam Brownback, who is leaving to run for governor of Kansas. Brownback said not to put him in the “yea” camp just yet. “I’m not going to go along with just anything [Reid] throws in there,” he said. “I believe in it; I think it’s the right thing to do, but I can’t be cute with it.”

Gulf spill legislation

Even legislation to respond to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is on life support.

Bipartisan agreement exists on a range of ideas, including steps for reorganizing the Interior Department agency that oversees offshore drilling permits and royalties.

Democrats have labored to find an agreement on removing the $75 million liability cap for companies responsible for future oil spills. The original pitch for unlimited liability has given way to negotiations between oil-state Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Begich of Alaska aimed at setting up an escrow account for small- and medium-sized oil companies.

“There’s something between unlimited and $75 million that a lot of people can agree on,” said an environmental lobbyist tracking the issue.

But as with other energy issues, several observers question whether Congress has much of an appetite for wrapping up its response to the Gulf disaster. “A lot of the oil stuff has moved out of the headlines, and that’s the pressure to act,” said the former Senate Democratic aide.

Scott Segal, an industry lobbyist, said he expects legislators to wait until they’ve had a chance to read all of the different oil-spill investigative reports still in the pipeline, including the bipartisan commission organized by President Barack Obama.

“There’s a lot of grist for the mill that’s not been fully comprehended yet,” Segal said.