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Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Holds Hearing on US Dependence on Foreign Minerals

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing “To Examine the United States’ Increasing Dependence on Foreign Sources of Minerals and Opportunities to Rebuild and Improve the Supply Chain in the United States”. The Hearing featured testimony from a variety of experts who were able to provide insight into both the importance of cultivating a domestic supply chain for minerals and the current impediments to investment in mining in the United States. The list of witnesses was as follows:

·       Dr. Murray Hitzman, Associate Director, Energy and Minerals, The U.S. Geological Survey (testimony)

·       Mr. Alf Barrios, Chief Executive, Rio Tinto Aluminum (testimony)

·       Dr. Chris Hinde, Director of Reports, Metals and Mining, S&P Global Market Intelligence (testimony)

·       Mr. Randy MacGillivray, Vice President, Project Development, Ucore Rare Metals, Inc. (testimony)

·       Vice Admiral Kevin J. Cosgriff, USN (Retired), President and Chief Executive Officer, National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) (testimony)

·       Dr. Roderick G. Eggert, Viola Vestal Coulter Foundation Chair in Mineral Economics Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines (testimony)

 

Chairwoman Murkowski (R-AK) continues to be a champion for mineral development and investment in the United States. Her opening statement as well as her questions demonstrated her knowledge of the role minerals play in the global and domestic economy and the reliance every sector has on accessible and affordable minerals. In addition to the predictably supportive Republican Senators, the Democrat Senators in attendance all also appeared to understand the importance of the mining industry and the responsible development of domestic resources. During the Q&A portion of the hearing the Senators asked questions on a variety of issues that impact IMA-NA members. Please see the synopses below on questions of particular interest.

 

·       Permitting: Multiple Senators asked for insight on how the permitting process impacts US development of mineral resources. The consistent message from the panel was that the permitting process in the United States needs takes substantially longer than Canada and Australia, two countries with comparable standards, and that the process can be improved by eliminating duplicative components, syncing up different agencies’ requirements to work on things simultaneously, setting actualized deadlines, and providing certainty in the long term requirements.

·       CERCLA: Senator Lee (R-UT) asked whether CERCLA 108(b) would have a negative impact on the mining industry. Mr. Barrios answered that the rule would disincentivize investment in new mining projects in the United States. Additionally, Barrios noted that the bonding requirements are duplicative as companies already carry bonding under other programs to cover the clean up of contaminated sites.

·       Education: The Committee had questions related to both the education of the general public, Congress, and the Administration about the industry and the state of the mining engineering pipeline at mining schools. These questions reflect conversations IMA-NA members and staff continue on the best way to increase awareness of our industry in a positive light. In addition, the focus on encouraging the next generation of mining professionals also mirrors current IMA-NA outreach and program development.

·       Minerals Science: Senator Murkowski took some time to comment on her belief in funding the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to provide the US with the most complete information possible on the resources available. She specifically focused on the need to create a complete map of the minerals of United States, as only 1/3 of the country is currently mapped.

·       Transportation: Senator Stabenow (D-MI) asked a question about the role access to reasonable transportation for mined products has in promoting domestic production of minerals. The panel all related that transportation costs made up a large part of operating budgets and certainly could negatively impact domestic production.

·       Soda Ash: Senator Barrasso (R-WY) asked a question about how minerals, such as Soda Ash, can remain competitive in a global market when US producers face both higher transportation costs and regulatory burdens, and are not subsidized in the way China subsidizes mining. Dr. Hitzman highlighted the importance of reliable transportation infrastructure, favorable tax codes, and consistent interpretation of laws and regulations.

 

The hearing gave a good indication of how the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee views the role of the mining industry in our economy and our national defense. Chairwoman Murkowski acknowledged plans to reintroduce her legislation S. 883, American Mineral Security Act of 2015, from last session as a way to further raise the importance of minerals to our national and economic well-being. Overall, the hearing provided the industry the opportunity to highlight the challenges of operating in the United States as well as the positive contributions the industry makes to society. 

To read Chairwoman Murkowski's opening statement click here.

To watch the recording of the hearing click here. 

Tags:  Barrasso  CERCLA  Congress  Energy and Natural Resources  ENR  hearing  industrial minerals industry  legislation  Legislators  minerals science  Murkowski  Senate  soda ash  usgs 

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House Passes Bills to Expand Congressional Oversight of Regulatory Actions

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, January 6, 2017

This week the U.S. House of Representatives took their the first actions in the 115th Congress to address the regulatory agenda of the past 8 years. The House voted on and passed both the Midnight Rules Relief Act (H.R. 21) and the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017 (REINS Act or H.R.26) almost completely along party lines. When taken together H.R. 21 and H.R. 26 allow Congress greater influence and oversight over both the last regulations to come out of the Obama Administration and future proposed regulations. Over the last 8 years, the Republican Caucus has consistently criticized and challenged the regulatory overreach promulgated under the Obama Administration; passage of H.R. 21 and H.R. 26 were in line with the start of this new congressional session. 

The Midnight Rules Relief Act will amend the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to allow lawmakers to bundle together multiple rules and overturn them en masse with a joint resolution of disapproval, if it passes the Senate. The CRA would apply to regulations put forward for review within the last 60 legislative days of the 114th Congressional Session. Opponents of the bill argue that it will result in the overturning of regulations without considering the merits of individual regulations, while sponsor Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49) sees the action as streamlining the process of the CRA.

The REINS Act, true to its name, aims to curb the ability of agencies to promulgate unnecessary or overly burdensome regulations without Congress's sign off. Should the REINS Act pass the Senate and be signed into law, It would require Congressional approval of regulations, with an impact of $100 million or more on the economy, for them to take effect. 

These two bills would provide either more necessary oversight over the regulatory agencies or eat into the autonomy and power of the executive branch, depending on one's view of the jurisdictional limitations of the different branches of government. 

To read the Midnight Rules Relief Act click here.

To read the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017 click here. 

Tags:  115th Congress  administration  Congress  GOP  House  legislation  overregulation  regulations  regulators  REINS 

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First Friday Ask IMA - Post Election Update TODAY

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, December 2, 2016

With the election finally over, DC is preparing for the start of a new Administration and Congressional Session in January. Republicans control both the legislative and executive branches, meaning there will be tremendous opportunity to enact their policy agenda. Please join IMA-NA staff today, December 2nd at 1:00pm EST to hear insights on how the Trump Administration's Cabinet choices could impact our industry, what the House and Senate are likely to focus on in the coming year, and how to get involved in shaping upcoming tax reform and the other issues important to the industrial minerals industry.

 

Click here to Register.

Tags:  administration  Congress  first friday  legislation  Legislators  politics  president  Regulations 

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Workforce Development Bill Passes Out of Committee

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, July 7, 2016

Today the House Committee on Education and Workforce unanimously passed H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, out of Committee. The bill reauthorizes and reforms the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, an important law that hadn't been updated in over a decade.  The bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA)  is a reinvestment in workforce development in the United States. H.R. 5587 will allow for continued federal support for state and local career and technical education (CTE) programs but importantly improves upon the original legislation in the following ways:

• Aligns CTE programs to the needs of the regional, state, and local labor market;
• Supports effective and meaningful collaboration between secondary and postsecondary institutions and employers;
• Increases student participation in work-based learning opportunities; and
• Promotes the use of industry recognized credentials and other recognized post-secondary credentials.

As we face an approaching skilled workforce gap, legislation like H.R. 5587 supports educational programs that will make it easier for new workers to enter the workforce prepared and able to step into various roles. IMA-NA has supported reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act for several years and applaud the Committee on working together to produce bipartisan legislation that invests in our workforce. As such, along with other business leaders and trade associations, IMA-NA signed onto a letter to Committee Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Scott  expressing support for H.R. 5587 and urging rapid movement on the legislation. The letter is attached below. 

To read the bill click here.

To read the Committee press release click here. 

Download File (DOCX)

Tags:  committee on education and workforce  Congress  legislation  training  workforce development 

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Senate to Vote on Waters of the U.S. Bill - Update

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Monday, November 2, 2015

Tomorrow, November 3rd, the Senate is set to take up the Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S.1140) a bill aimed at forcing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to go back to the drawing board on the "waters of the U.S." rule, which was finalized in May.  The EPA and Corps have faced significant opposition to their updated definition of "waters of the U.S." since the agencies issued proposed guidance back in 2011.  S.1140 adds to the momentum of opposition following the recent court decisions to stay the implementation of the rule, by requiring EPA and the Corps to more clearly outline the science and analyses underlying the rule. Opponents, IMA-NA and other industry associations included, see the rule as a unjustifiable jurisdictional land grab that will effectively give the EPA the authority to regulate most of the United States under the Clean Water Act (CWA). There are questions about both the process and science the EPA used in order to draft the rule.  S.1140 would force the EPA to revisit the rule and either provide the support for the regulation or alter it in order to reflect the actual parameters of the CWA. The bill was introduced by Senator Barrasso (R-WY) and has supporters on both sides of the aisle.

This bill is the companion bill to H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, which passed the House in May. As of now, the bill has 46 cosponsors and it needs 60 votes to clear the Senate. 

To read the bill click here

If you are interested in urging your Senator to support S.1140, click here to find their office contact information. 

**Update** - The Senate failed to reach the 60 votes needed for passage of S. 1140.  IMA-NA, along with other members of the Water Advocacy Coalition (WAC), signed onto a letter expressing disapproval to Senators King, Nelson, Kaine, Warner, Feinstein, Schatz, Coons, Carper, Tester, Bennet and Klobuchar for voting against S. 1140 while simultaneously expressing concerns over the scope of WOTUS.  

Tags:  Army Corps of Engineers  Congress  EPA  legislation  Regulations  wotus 

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House Republicans Nominate Paul Ryan for Speakership

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Five weeks after Representative John Boehner (R-OH-8) announced his resignation from Congress and Speaker of the House, the House Republicans have nominated Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) to take the gavel.  The nomination also comes three weeks after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) surprisingly announced he would not seek the Speakership.  The protracted nature of the nomination process of a new Speaker has highlighted the somewhat fractious nature of the current class of House Republicans. After multiple closed door meetings, last week the ultra conservative branch of the party known as the Freedom Caucus agreed to endorse Rep. Ryan, clearing the way for him to step into the Speakership. It's important to note that Ryan accepted the nomination only after setting terms to curb the influence by groups like the Freedom Caucus on his ability to perform the role of Speaker. 

Today, after another closed door meeting it was announced the House GOP officially nominated Rep. Ryan.  He won the support of 200 of the 247 GOP conference.  Interestingly the nomination fell on the same day as the House vote on the 2 year fiscal plan that would increase government spending by $80 billion through September 2017 and raise the federal debt limit. The deal was negotiated by Boehner and is considered largely undesirable by the House conservatives. Ryan has already gone on the record as supporting the plan despite acknowledging it includes  “some good, some bad, and some ugly".  Voting in favor of the measure puts Ryan out of step with conservatives, but should not impede his ascendency to Speaker of the House. 

 

Tags:  Boehner  Congress  fiscal  House  legislation  Paul Ryan  Ryan  speaker of the house 

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Congress to Vote on National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The House is slated to vote on the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act (H.R. 1937) this week. H.R. 1937 was introduced by Representative Amodei (R-NV) as the House companion bill for Senator Murkowski's American Mineral Security Act (S. 883).  Both bills encourage greater production of strategic and critical minerals in the United States as well as providing for greater investment in minerals sciences.  IMA-NA has supported both bills since introduction, specifically for the provisions geared towards increasing minerals information programs at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as well as creating a more efficient and streamlined permitting process of mining projects. Both pieces of legislation acknowledge our reliance on minerals and the necessity to invest in long term responsible and efficient development of our natural resources.  Previously, IMA-NA submitted testimony to the Senate supporting the objectives of the American Mineral Security Act as well as signing onto the Minerals Sciences Information Coalition's (MSIC) comments.  The bill is an important step to encouraging the continued investment in our industry.  If you would like to reach out to your member an encourage their support you can click here.

To read the bill click here.

Tags:  Congress  critical minerals  industrial minerals industry  legislation  minerals science  permitting process  strategic minerals 

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Update - House Passes Bill to End the Ban on Crude Exports

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, October 8, 2015
Updated: Friday, October 9, 2015

Tomorrow morning, the House of Representatives will take up H.R. 702, a bill introduced by Representative Joe Barton (R-TX-6) that would end the 40 year old ban on the exportation of crude oil.  This afternoon Representative Kevin Cramer (R-ND-AL) along with Rep. Barton, other cosponsors, and industry leaders convened a press conference to draw more attention to the bill before the vote.  It was announced during the press conference that the bill has enough support to pass through the House without problem, leaving the Senate with the job to send the H.R. 702 to President Obama's desk.  The press conference comes just a day after the President released a statement of intent to veto the bill should Congress pass it.  Opponents worry lifting the ban will increase energy, specifically gasoline, prices as well as support the continued reliance on fossil fuels globally. Conversely, lifting the ban on exports would have immediate impacts on the economy, lead to both short and long term job growth, and contribute to increased national security for the U.S. Additionally, according to experts lifting the export ban should not lead to higher gas prices as they are set against a global rather than national index. IMA-NA supports the passage of H.R. 702 and was in attendance at the press conference. If Rep. Barton's count is correct after tomorrow the U.S. will be one step closer to removing the, no longer necessary, ban on crude oil exports. 

To read H.R. 702 click here.

To read the President's stance on H.R. 702 click here

​** Update ** ​The House passed H.R. 702 this afternoon (10/9) by a vote of 261 -159.

Tags:  Congress  crude oil  energy  export ban  exports  legislation  president  white house 

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IMA-NA Members Testify at Senate Hearing on Soda Ash Royalties

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, October 1, 2015

This afternoon two IMA-NA members, Tronox and the Port of Portland, had the opportunity to testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining on the importance of reducing the soda ash royalty to 2 percent as opposed to the imminent rise to 6 percent. The hearing, convened by Subcommittee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), was held in order to gather testimony and support for S. 2031, American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act.  IMA-NA members Fred von Ahrens, Vice President of Manufacturing for Tronox, and Rick Finn, Federal Affairs Manager for the Port of Portland, offered insight into the positive impact lower federal royalties have for the soda ash industry, the Port of Portland and the U.S. economy in general. 

The lower royalty rate is vital for the U.S. industry to remain competitive in the global marketplace where their largest competitors from China are currently heavily subsidized.  The recent devaluation of the Chinese currency combined with a substantial VAT rebate, allow the Chinese companies a $27 per metric ton cost advantage over U.S. companies.  

The U.S. soda ash industry is the largest inorganic chemical export by volume in the United States and provides over one billion dollars to the balance of trade.  Roughly 58% of all soda ash produced in the U.S. is exported, while the remaining 42% is used domestically, supplying virtually 100% of domestic need. 

The soda ash industry contributes substantially to our national economy and has the additional benefit of having less environmental impact than the process China uses to make synthetic soda ash. IMA-NA's life cycle analysis of soda ash was submitted to the record as proof of U.S. producers commitment to being responsible stewards for the environment as well as for their products. 

Numerous parties submitted written support for the royalty reduction, including the Glass Packaging Institute, the Beer Institute, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and former Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, along with the Union Pacific Railroad. All are attached below. 

To view a press release on this hearing, click here.

To read more about the hearing click here

To read the American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act click here

Download File (PDF)

 Attached Files:

Tags:  Congress  hearing  IMA-NA  life cycle analysis  Port of Portland  soda ash  testimony  Tronox 

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National Strategic and Critical Minerals Bill Passes Out of Committee

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, July 10, 2015
The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act (H.R. 1937), passed through the House Committee on Natural Resources on July 9th.  The legislation is the House companion bill for Senator Murkowski's American Mineral Security Act (S. 883) and was introduced by Representative Amodei.  Previously, IMA-NA submitted testimony to the Senate supporting the objectives of the American Mineral Security Act.  Passage of Representative Amodei's bill out of Committee means it will have a chance to make it to the House floor this session. IMA-NA continues to support these pieces of legislation that support minerals information, science, and the mining industry.

Tags:  Congress  legislation  minerals science  mining 

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