NEW YORK The
U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill this past week that
looks to expedite domestic mining and exploration and "more
efficiently develop" mineral sources in the United States.
The National Strategic
and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013 passed in the
House by a 246-178 vote Sept. 18 and will move to the Senate
for consideration. The legislation seeks to shorten the amount
of time federal agencies have to approve mining and exploration
permits and provide greater purview to local and state agencies
with jurisdiction over proposed projects.
findings note that the United States has become "increasingly
dependent upon foreign sources" for mineral materials, and
classifies the exploration and production of resources as
"essential for economic growth."
A House Natural
Resources Committee report on the matter found that domestic
mineral exploration "stagnated or declined during most of the
1990s and 2000s" due in part to a "burdensome permitting
process" that can last "over a decade to acquire all the
government permits for a mineral production project."
In addition to
shortening the exploration permitting process, the legislation
would mandate federal agencies coordinating the process to
defer to data and analysis from state agencies. It would also
require civil lawsuits against permitting actions to be filed
within 60 days of the contested action.
The bill was sponsored
by Rep. Mark Amodei (R., Nev.) and was overwhelmingly backed by
House Republicans, while only 15 Democrats voted in favor.
The mining and
exploration industry has also shown public support for the
legislation, with Sierra Blanca, Texas-based Texas Rare Earth
Resources Corp. welcoming the Houses passage of the bill
as "a solid sign of a growing consensus on the importance of
strategic and critical metals."