Oppose: H.R. 761: National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act
Say No to H.R. 761 - Protect Our Communities and Our Environment
Tell your Representative to oppose H.R. 761 in its entirety!
Update: September 2013
Photo Source: Representative Nolan's official website
Rep. Nolan votes with Republicans for special favors bill for big mining!
Update - H.R. 761: National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013 passed in the House September 18th, 2013 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.
Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan joined 14 Democrats and all 231 Republicans to vote yes on H.R. 761, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013. The bill would fast track and streamline environmental review for mines on U.S. public lands. The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), former president of the Nevada Mining Association.
The Obama administration strongly opposed H.R. 76: National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013 as undermining and removing environmental safeguards for almost all types of hardrock mines on Federal lands. From the Statement, "The legislation also undermines existing law safeguarding the multiple uses of public lands by placing mining interests above all other uses. This change has the potential to threaten hunting, fishing, recreation, and other activities that create jobs and sustain local economies across the country." - see below.
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EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20503
July 9, 2013
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
H.R. 761 – National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013
(Rep. Amodei, R-NV, and 57 cosponsors)
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 761, which, though vaguely worded, would undermine and remove the environmental safeguards, for, at a minimum, almost all types of hardrock mines on Federal lands. Notwithstanding the title and the stated purpose of the legislation, H.R. 761, as reported by the House Natural Resources Committee, is drafted in such a manner as to cover virtually all hardrock mining on Federal lands. Protection of the public through sound Federal decision-making would be circumvented by the bill's provisions, which include the elimination of appropriate reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act, the circumvention of public involvement in any mining proposals, and the bypassing of the formulation of alternatives to proposals, among other deleterious stipulations. The Administration strongly supports the development of rare earth elements and other critical minerals, but rejects the notion that their development is incompatible with environmental protection and public involvement in agency decision-making.
The legislation also undermines existing law safeguarding the multiple uses of public lands by placing mining interests above all other uses. This change has the potential to threaten hunting, fishing, recreation, and other activities that create jobs and sustain local economies across the country. Furthermore, the Administration opposes the legislation's severe restrictions on judicial review. Although the legislation purports to limit litigation, its extremely short statute of limitations and vague constraints on the scope of prospective relief that a court may issue are likely to have the opposite effect.
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H.R. 761: National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013 Vote Tally in the U.S. House of Representatives
From GovTracks.org found HERE
Media Coverage on H.R. 761
Ely Echo Editorial - Republican bill to streamline mine permitting receives Nolan's vote 9/21/2013
Iron Country Free Press - Nolan Puts Mining Company Interests Above Workers, Communities
Duluth News Tribune - Nolan, U.S. House vote for quicker mining permits - U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan joined with other mining supporters Wednesday when the U.S. House passed legislation to streamline federal environmental permitting for mining projects.
Earthworks Action Alert and Information Found HERE
For more information from Earthworks:
Take Action! Tell your Representatives to oppose HR 761
Minnesota Coalition letter opposing H.R. 761 linked HERE
MINNESOTANS OPPOSE H.R. 761
Say "NO" to H.R. 761:
National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013
Dear Congressional Representatives and Senators,
On behalf of the tens of thousands of our members and supporters from across Minnesota and beyond, the undersigned organizations write in opposition to H.R. 761: National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013. We urge you to oppose H.R. 761 in its entirety. The Act, which seeks to formally define “critical” minerals and hasten the permitting of the extraction and production of minerals on public lands, would result in significant and irreparable harm to our Nation’s waters, wildlife, public health, tribal treaty obligations, and communities. According to the EPA, the metal mining industry is the Nation’s top toxic polluter.
H.R. 761, promoted by the mining industry, broadly defines critical and strategic minerals as those that support domestic manufacturing, agriculture, housing, telecommunications, healthcare, transportation infrastructure, or the Nation’s economic security and balance of trade. This definition of "critical minerals" is so broad that common hardrock minerals like copper could be considered for fast tracking of the permit process. This would include highly controversial sulfide mining proposals in watersheds that drain into internationally important waters, including the proposed PolyMet open pit copper mine in the Lake Superior watershed and the proposed Twin Metals copper mine that borders the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
H.R. 761 also eliminates or weakens longstanding congressional mandates, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. It would instead require the BLM and Forest Service to “maximize mineral development” and ensure that “more of the mineral resource can be brought to the market place.” An agency’s authority to minimize impacts or reduce impacts over time would be severely curtailed. Current definitions of fill material under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act already allow mining companies to dump mining waste into streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands. H.R. 761 ignores the billions of gallons of water necessary for mining operations and the impact to aquifers and drainage of watersheds.
H.R. 761 is corporate welfare in the form of destruction of our public lands for multi-national mining company profits. It fails to consider monetary compensation for the taking of our metals. It neglects to address the mining impacts of loss of public lands and degradation of water supplies for future generations, the harm to wildlife and their habitat, and the destruction of ecologically significant wetlands and waters--all equally important to our nation’s security and well-being.
Public participation in decisions about the effects of mines on local communities would also be limited by H.R. 761. Public input is a valuable aspect of the environmental review process because it leads to better decision making. Environmental documents prepared during the review provide information to the agencies, other governmental unit decision-makers, and the public about the full set of potential environmental risks associated with a proposed project, and avenues for avoiding environmental damage. The intent of H.R.761 is to bypass complete and full environmental review that protects the public interest and common welfare.
It is important to note that although the bill is focused on newly designated critical minerals, the bill will impact non-critical minerals as well. Many minerals, including rare earth elements, are found together and are not mined alone; such minerals are often not in high enough concentrations to mine economically unless in combination. By fast-tracking and limiting environmental review for rare earth and other minerals deemed critical, Congress is in effect doing so for any mining operation that has a so called "critical mineral" as a by-product. H.R. 761 ignores the fact that multi-national mining conglomerates finance and profit from mines in the United States and sell metals on the global market. There is no guarantee that any mineral mined as critical would actually be sold or used domestically.
We respectfully request that you oppose H.R. 761, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013, in its entirety. We need full and complete National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review to protect our waters, wildlife and our communities. The bill allows lead agencies to determine that a project is "not a major Federal action," a backdoor way of waiving NEPA, with its environmental analysis, disclosure, and public involvement requirements. The bill includes limits on legal review and relief and removes plaintiff cost and fee awards as required by the Equal Access to Justice Act.
H.R. 761 would silence community and environmental concerns when new mines are proposed. Please vote "no".
Alliance for Sustainability - Sean Gosiewski
Audubon Minnesota - Don Arnosti
Center For Biological Diversity - Marc Fink
Earthworks - Jennifer Krill
ElyMinnesota.com - Richard Watson
Environment Minnesota - Samantha Chadwick
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness - Betsy Daub
Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest - Kristin Larsen
Izaak Walton League of America, Minnesota Division - Larry Dolphin
Izaak Walton League of America, Walter J. Breckenridge Chapter - Steven Schaust
League of Women Voters Duluth - Gay Trachsel
League of Women Voters Minnesota - Laura Frederick Wang
Minnesota Center For Environmental Advocacy - Kathryn Hoffman
Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness - Becky Rom
Protect Our Manoomin - Robert DesJarlait
River Point Resort & Outfitting Co. Ely, MN - Jane and Steve Koschak
Save Lake Superior Association - Le Roger Lind
Save Our Sky Blue Waters - Elanne Palcich
Sierra Club North Star Chapter - Lori Andresen
Sled Dogs To St. Paul - Frank Moe
Western Lands Project - Janine Blaeloch
Wetlands Action Group - Bob Tammen
Wilderness Watch - Kevin Proescholdt
Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) from the Compromise Mine
The Carpenter Snow Creek Mining District Superfund Site (CSCMD) lies in the Little Belt Mountains of southern Cascade County. The site encompasses approximately 9,000 acres with mine tailings, waste rock and acid mine drainage present throughout the site, due to the many inactive and abandoned mines. The State of Montana’s Abandoned Mine Bureau identified, inventoried and sampled these inactive mines in the Carpenter Snow Creek area in the early 1990s. Sampling showed the presence of a variety of metals in the area surface water and soil that are found in concentrations known to produce risk to human health and the environment. The CSCMD site was listed on the Superfund National Priorities List in 2001.