The House Natural Resources Comittee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a legislative hearing July 27 on three bills to bring greater certainty to the mining industry and shield economic development and energy projects from politically motivated actions.
“[T]he effects [of the Obama Administration’s coal moratorium] were felt most by the people in my state who lost good paying mining jobs and the communities that were devastated by drastic reductions in the economic activity our coal industry supports. In Wyoming, this was not a war on coal, this was a direct attack on the livelihoods of the people of my state,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said. “The people of Wyoming deserve better and that’s why I introduced the bill before us today.”
H.R. 1778 (Rep. Liz Cheney, R-WY) requires congressional approval of any order by the Interior Secretary imposing a moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands.
“We believe that Congress should certainly have a say in the matter. For Wyoming, the state most directly and disproportionally affected, this is critical,” Executive Director of the Wyoming Mining Association Travis Deti stated. “This legislation is about shielding America’s most abundant, reliable and affordable energy resource from politically motivated administrations.”
In addition to the coal moratorium, the Obama Administration in 2016 unilaterally denied renewing mineral leases on National Forest land in Minnesota that were held since the late 1960s. In case that wasn’t enough, the Administration also proposed to withdraw over 200,000 acres from mineral exploration and development, which conveniently covered the area of these longstanding leases.
Rep. Tom Emmer’s (R-MN) discussion draft legislation corrects these injustices to the communities of Northeaster Minnesota by requiring congressional approval to withdraw any minerals on National Forest System lands in the State of Minnesota.
“We have the opportunity today to fix this. By considering this proposal, you are not authorizing any mining project in the Superior National Forest. We are simply recognizing the right of Minnesotans to exercise their mineral rights if any proposed mining can satisfy all the stringent environmental requirements,” Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) said.
“[The Obama Administration’s] arbitrary withdrawal of land will decimate the economic future of Northeastern Minnesota and a way of life available to future generations of Minnesotans,” Chairman of Jobs for Minnesotans Nancy Norr stated.
Norr estimates that new mining projects in the proposed withdrawal areas have the potential to generate more than $2.5 billion in royalties for the Minnesota education system and $1.5 billion in annual wages.
H.R. 3117 (Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-WV), the “Transparency and Honesty in Energy Regulations Act of 2017,” prohibits the use of ambiguous metrics in environmental rulemaking such as the social cost of carbon.
“The social cost of carbon and its siblings, the social cost of methane and social cost of nitrous oxide, have become political tools. Exaggerating the benefits of regulations to sell them to the American public is disingenuous. The nation is already making major strides to improve the environment and lower emissions. We can continue to do so without sacrificing economic growth,” Rep. Jenkins said.
Click here to view full witness testimony.