House bill aims to ‘streamline’ permits for mining rare earth elements

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) introduced the bill earlier this year. Nevada has a large mining industry.

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“Decade-long permitting delays are standing in the way of high-paying jobs and revenue for local communities,” Amodei said. “This bill would streamline the permitting process to leverage our nation's vast mineral resources, while paying due respect to economic and environmental concerns.”

In May, the House Natural Resources Committee marked up the bill and voted to advance it on a 24-17 vote. Only one Democrat on the committee supported the bill — Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.).

Some Democrats have argued that streamlining mining permits could be harmful to the environment and should be thoroughly reviewed before mining is allowed.

The bill would require the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to work with state and local governments to expedite the permitting process in order to keep the United States competitive with other mining countries, such as China and India.

“In the 2012 ranking of countries for mining investment, the United States ranked last in permitting delays," said Amodei. "Duplicative regulations, bureaucratic inefficiency, and lack of coordination between federal agencies are threatening the economic recovery of my home state and jeopardizing our national security.”

Rare earth minerals are used for telecommunications, military technologies, healthcare technologies and energy technologies.

The House Rules Committee will meet Tuesday to consider possible amendments to the bill.

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