Tell your Senators to Say NO to HR 4402
In the name of promoting "critical" mineral development in the United States, HR 4402/S1113, the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2012, could muffle or silence community and environmental concerns when new mines are proposed.
So-called strategic or critical minerals, like rare earths, are used in the manufacture of items we use every day, like mobile phones.
China Rare Earths
Photo courtesy of The Daily Caller
According to the Department of Energy, what's holding back "critical" minerals development is not community or environmental concerns about mining.
But S. 1113, in the name of critical minerals, could effectively silence the voices of mining impacted communities anyway. Worse yet, the definition of "critical minerals" could be so broad that traditional hardrock minerals like copper could be considered for fast tracking the permit process.
TAKE ACTION: Tell your Senators to oppose S1113/HR4402. Don't ignore the community and the environment when deciding whether to allow new mines!
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For more information:
- Senate: Text of S.1113
- Earthworks: S.1113/HR4402 fact sheet
- Earthworks: House Majority Pushes USA to Mine More Like the Chinese
- Earthworks: Not so rare after all: Lynas Corporation's rare earth refinery in Malaysia
HR 4402, sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), seeks to encourage "critical" minerals development in the United States by asking the Interior Department to:
- Determine a methodology for identifying critical minerals
- Create a list of critical minerals using that methodology
- Examine all mining regulations soup to nuts to determine where permitting of critical minerals should be streamlined.
Harvesting many rare earth minerals occurs as a by-product of other traditional hardrock metals. This presents the practical problem of streamlining permits for the rare earth minerals found in the same mine as uranium, iron, or copper. Worse yet, the bill allows the Interior Department to select any metal that could be subject to supply disruption or important for defense or agricultural applications as "critical".
Congress is effectively talking about creating incentives for large, profitable mining operations that have rare earths or other minerals as a by-product of the primary mineral production.
To the extent that there is a problem, the market is already solving it. A rare earths mine in California is slated to reopen within the year. And surveys of mining companies worldwide indicate that U.S. regulation/permitting is a competitive advantage rather than a disadvantage.