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EPA Issues Waters of the U.S. Rule

Posted By Chris Greissing, Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Earlier today, the Obama Administration finalized a Rule by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to significantly expand the definition of what falls under the category of being a “waters of the U.S.”, and thus fall under federal jurisdiction and oversight.  Many waters including: ponds, streams, wetlands, tributaries and ditches that were not under federal jurisdiction, will now be covered by this rule.  

The original Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972.  It was written to cover “navigable waters” such as the Mississippi River, Great Lakes, and other major waterways.  It had not been clear how far that jurisdiction was intended to reach upstream.  The Supreme Court via two decisions in 2001 and 2006 added a “significant nexus” requirement to a navigable water for that upstream water to fall under federal jurisdiction.  This rule appears to go far beyond that.  

There are efforts underway already in Congress to block the rule and force EPA to do a revised rulemaking.  Lawsuits are also likely to be filed on one of several grounds, as it appears as if the Administration may have violated the Administrative Procedure Act during this process; the Administration also failed to adequately protect small businesses in the rule making process; and the expanded federal jurisdiction appears to go far beyond what Congress intended in the 1972 Clean Water Act.

Here is a link to the EPA site with background materials and fact sheets for the final rule

IMA-NA staff will continue to review this rule to determine its impacts and will get you more information in the coming days.  




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OSHA Update by ASSE

Posted By Darrell Smith, Thursday, May 7, 2015

The National Capital Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers recently hosted an event that allowed multiple presenters from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to provide updates on their current activities within the Agency.  Several Power Point presentations for the event can be viewed by clicking here.

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Evaluating Your Water Risk (Slides from a NAM Webinar)

Posted By Darrell Smith, Wednesday, May 6, 2015

IMA-NA staff attended a National Association of Manufacturers webinar today on evaluating the water risks to your operations. We thought the slides were worth sharing. They are attached...

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Language Included to Prevent Listing of Sage Grouse in House Defense Authorization Bill

Posted By Chris Greissing, Thursday, April 30, 2015

Earlier today, the House Armed Services Committee voted 60-2 to pass, H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act.  A key provision that was included in the package (on pages 58-59), was language that would prevent the Secretary of the Interior from listing Sage Grouse as endangered until September 30, 2025. 

The next step for the legislation is a vote by the full House.

To view the bill, click here.

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American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act Introduced in House

Posted By Chris Greissing, Thursday, April 23, 2015

Representative Paul Cook (CA-R), along with Representatives Cynthia Lummis (WY-R), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-D), Kurt Schrader (OR-D), Mo Brooks (R-AL), David Valadao (CA-R), Mimi Walters (CA-R), and Jim Himes (CT-D), have introduced H.R. 1992, the American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act.  The bipartisan legislation would temporarily reduce the federal royalty rate from 6% to 2% for a period of five years.

Soda ash is the primary ingredient in making glass and is also used in detergents and other products.  The soda ash is produced naturally in two locations in the United States: Trona, CA and Green River, WY.  

While the U.S. industry supplies 100% of the domestic needs for soda ash, the largest growth area for the industry remains in exports. Soda ash is the largest inorganic export in the United States. It is shipped out of Long Beach and San Diego, CA, Portland, OR, Longview, WA, Galveston and Port Arthur, TX, providing hundreds of good jobs at those Ports.

The primary competition for the US soda ash industry globally comes from a heavily subsidized Chinese industry.  In China, the government provides a 9% VAT rebate on exports to its soda ash companies, which amounts to roughly $35 million annually.  Besides being heavily subsidized, Chinese soda ash is also produced synthetically, which emits 2-3 times as much CO2 and uses 2-3 times as much energy per ton of soda ash produced.  

The royalty reduction would not only even the playing field for the US industry globally and protect American jobs, but it would also promote a cleaner, greener natural soda ash that would benefit the global environment.  

The Industrial Minerals Association – North America would like to thank Representatives Cook, Lummis, Bonamici, Himes, Schrader, Brooks, Valadao and Walters for introducing this vital legislation for the United States soda ash industry.  We look forward to working with your offices to get this legislation enacted into law this session of Congress.  

A copy of the legislation is attached.

To view the press release from Congressman Paul Cook, click here.

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Bi-State Sage Grouse Removed from the Endangered Species List

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, April 23, 2015

Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, has announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to remove the Bi-State Greater Sage-Grouse from the Endangered Species List. The announcement comes in the midst of the ongoing FWS deliberation on whether the Greater Sage-Grouse should be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Secretary Jewell’s announcement signals the success of the multiyear state lead collaborative conservation efforts in the Bi-State area. The Bi-State population of Greater Sage-Grouse inhabits approximately 4.5 million acres of land on the Nevada and California border and was designated as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) in 2010.  The DPS classification recognizes that the Bi-State population of Greater Sage-Grouse is significantly genetically different from the rest of the population in the western United States, due to thousands of years of relative separation. 

Since the early 2000s state and local agencies in California and Nevada along with federal agencies, landowners and businesses created and enacted successful conservation plans for the Bi-State Greater Sage Grouse.  FWS’s decision to remove the Bi-State Greater Sage-Grouse from the Endangered Species list is a demonstration of the powerful role state and local conservation plans can be in efforts to protect wildlife. The 11 western states with populations of Greater Sage-Grouse have all been working diligently to create conservation plans tailored to balance protection of the birds with each states’ needs.  The success of the Bi-State Plan is an encouraging sign that FWS may not need to take close to 100 million acres of land in the west offline completely in order to protect this species. IMA-NA is hopeful this development will encourage FWS to approach the listing of the Greater Sage-Grouse in a more realistic way.

Relatedly, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the “Sage-Grouse Protection and Conservation Act” (S.1036) on April 22. The legislation would allow states six years to create and implement state specific conservation plans before the Department of Interior could make its decision to list the Greater Sage-Grouse as threatened or endangered.  Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT), is expected to introduced the House companion bill by the end of the week. 

 

To read the Department of Interior’s press release click here.

To read Senator Gardner’s press release click here .

Tags:  department of interior  ESA  Greater Sage Grouse  industrial minerals industry  legislation  Regulations  sage grouse  Secretary Jewell 

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U.S. House Hearing: “Protecting America’s Workers: An Enforcement Update from the Mine Safety and Health Administration"

Posted By Darrell Smith, Thursday, April 23, 2015
A hearing was held today by the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee, Subcommittee on Workforce Protections titled “Protecting America’s Workers: An Enforcement Update from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).” The Honorable Joseph A. Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Labor, testified before the Subcommittee on a variety of topics including MSHA funding, recent compliance initiatives and current health and safety data and trends. IMA-NA staff is currently reviewing the statements and testimony and will advise the membership of any concerns.

To review testimony from the Hearing, click the links below:

Joseph Main: http://edworkforce.house.gov/uploadedfiles/assistant_secretary_main_testimony.pdf

Chairman Walberg: http://edworkforce.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=398745
 

To view a recording of the Hearing, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogbLSDXJZfk

 

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IMA-NA Participates in Women's Mining Coalition Annual Fly-In

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, April 17, 2015

The Women's Mining Coalition (WMC) kicked off their Annual Washington, DC Fly-In on Monday, April 13th.  Ariel Hill-Davis participated throughout the week in visits to various Congressional offices, as a representative for the Industrial Minerals mining community.  Over the course of the week, theWMC visited over 270 offices to meet with members of Congress and their aides on issues of importance to the mining community.  This year's top issues for WMC mirrored most of the topics IMA-NA is continuing to work on for our members.  Sage Grouse, Waters of the US (WOTUS), the American Minerals Security Act, and the impact of many of the new regulations and standards on the industrial sector; were the main topics of focus during the meetings.  The group asked members to consider supporting various pieces of legislation as well as continuing to educate themselves on the current state of the mining industry across the country.  If you have any questions about the Women's Mining Coalition or the meetings please contact Ariel.

Tags:  Congress  industrial minerals industry  legislation  minerals science  mining  policy  sage grouse  WMC  Women's Mining Coalition  wotus 

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Register for the IMA-NA Spring Meeting Today!

Posted By Chris Greissing, Monday, April 6, 2015
Register today for the IMA-NA 2015 Spring meeting.  

The meeting will be taking place May 12-15, 2015 in Washington, DC at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.  Please make your reservations as soon as possible by calling 1-888-421-1442 and refer to the IMA-NA Conference or you can make your reservations online, here.  The deadline for reservations is Wednesday, April 15th!

We have a very full agenda planned for the conference.  A draft program is attached.  

On Tuesday, May 12th, we will have our Day of Service on the National Mall with the National Park Service.

On Wednesday, May 13th, we will have our Sustainable Development Task Force and Associate Member Section meetings in the morning.  This will be followed by a luncheon with a speaker from Capitol Hill.  All those interested in making Hill visits that afternoon, please make sure you register for that option as soon as possible so that we can begin making arrangements for you.  And please email with a list of any offices you'd like to meet with while in town, and we'll do our best to fit those in to your schedule.

On Thursday, May 14th, we will have a full day of Committee and Section meetings, along with the presentation of our Annual Safety Recognition Awards at the luncheon.  

On Friday, May 15th, we will have Stephen D’Esposito, President of RESOLVE, as our special guest breakfast speaker.  This will be followed by our Board of Directors meeting which should conclude our meeting by about noon.  

Make sure you register with us here, and get your room at the Hyatt today!

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Senator Murkowksi Introduces the American Mineral Security Act

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, April 3, 2015
Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2015

This week, Senator Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the American Mineral Security Act (S.883), a bill focused on supporting the minerals science related to critical minerals. As a member of the Minerals Science Information Coalition (MSIC), IMA-NA is supportive of measures to increase the visibility of minerals sciences and the role of the US Geological Survey (USGS) in global economy. Senator Murkowski’s bill focuses specifically on critical minerals; creating a designation methodology, assessing resources, studying market demand and impact, and developing forecasting tools.  IMA-NA would like Senator Murkowski’s bill to be a starting place for a reinvestment in the necessary work done by the National Minerals Information Center (NMIC) at USGS. Our modern lifestyle relies on the mining industry and the raw materials it provides, and yet the US government has repeatedly cut funding and support for the programs that allow for conscientious mineral development with an eye towards the future. IMA-NA hopes that starting with critical minerals will increase awareness of the importance of NMIC, particularly in the usefulness of creating forecasting tools. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy Natural Resources.  The text of the bill is attached for your viewing.

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Tags:  Congress  industrial minerals industry  legislation  minerals science  Murkowski  usgs 

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