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Senate Confirms Alex Acosta for Secretary of Labor

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, April 28, 2017

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Alex Acosta to be the Secretary of Labor by a vote of 60-38. The vote garnered support from 9 Democrats, marking a strong difference from the partisan nature of many of the other Cabinet confirmation votes. With the confirmation of Alex Acosta settled, there remains only one more Cabinet-level nominee awaiting a vote from the full Senate, President Trump's pick for trade representative, Robert E. Lighthizer. The Trump Administration still has hundreds of important positions to fill within the agencies, but Acosta's confirmation will hopefully create some more clarity on what leadership for OSHA and MSHA will look like.  

President Trump nominated Alex Acosta for the role of Secretary of Labor after his initial nominee Andy Puzder withdrew from consideration after considerable opposition from labor groups and consumer advocates. Acosta served on the National Labor Relations Board from 2002-2003 in addition to working as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division and the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.  Secretary Acosta's past experiences stand him in good stead to understand and manage the portfolio of outstanding and future labor issues. 

Tags:  administration  confirmation  labor  Secretary of Labor  senate 

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Trump Administration Releases Budget Blueprint

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, March 16, 2017

Yesterday evening, President Trump and his Administration released their proposed budget. The budget blueprint gives a good indication of the Administration's priorities and how it sees the roles of the various federal departments and agencies. The proposal would cut substantial funding across most agencies with only the Department for Homeland Security, Defense Department, and the Department of Veteran Affairs seeing increases in their budgets. The focus on military and security is in line with the Trump Administration's messaging. Cuts range from a 1% proposed cut in NASA's funding to a 31% reduction in the EPA's budget. Of interest in IMA-NA members, the Labor Department under the Trump Administration's proposed plan would see a budget reduction of 21% and the Department of Interior would see a 12% cut. The President's proposed budget gives Congress an the country an idea of priorities of the new Administration. Congress has authority over discretionary spending, but will need to keep this proposal in mind as they work on setting a budget as President Trump will have the opportunity to either veto or sign off on the final budget. 

To read the America First budget blueprint click here.

 

Tags:  administration  budget  department of interior  EPA  Trump 

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Cabinet Confirmations Move Forward - Zinke and Perry

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, March 2, 2017

In the past two days, the Senate has approved two more Cabinet members for the Trump Administration. Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT-AL) was confirmed as Secretary of Interior on March 1st, by a vote of 68-31. Secretary Zinke won the support of all voting Republican and 17 Democrat Senators in his confirmation.  The former Navy Seal served just one term as the At-Large Representative for the State of Montana before being tapped by President Trump for the position of Secretary of Interior.  A self fashioned Teddy Roosevelt conservationist, Secretary Zinke, hopefully brings a sense of balance between conservation and responsible land development to his new position. As mentioned by IMA-NA previously, while Secretary Zinke's Congressional record is relatively short there are indications that under his leadership the Department of Interior will be open to working closely with industry, states, and stakeholders to ensure the United States is making the best use of our natural resources in a way that allows future generations to enjoy the same access.

Today, the Senate confirmed former Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) for the position of Secretary of Energy by a vote of 62-37. The former Governor of Texas will now be in the position of leading a department he vowed to abolish during his past presidential campaigns. In his role as Secretary of Energy, Perry will oversee over the maintenance of the country's nuclear stockpile as well as the Department's grants and loans and national R&D laboratories. While the focus of the Department of Energy is not on the development of energy sources many are hoping that Secretary Perry's experience with the benefits of the robust and diverse energy portfolio of Texas will lead to the maintenance of key grants and loans to research in the renewable sector. The impact on DOE funded R&D across the country will develop as Secretary Perry begins his new role in directing the agenda. 

 

Bonus trivia: On his first day as Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke rode into work on a National Park Service horse named Tonto.

Tags:  administration  confirmation  DOE  DOI  perry  rick perry  ryan zinke  zinke 

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Cabinet Confirmations Move Forward - Mulvaney & Pruitt

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, February 17, 2017

Yesterday, Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC5) was sworn in as the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Senate confirmed Mulvaney by a narrow margin of 51-49, largely along party lines.  Senator John McCain was the only Republican to vote against the confirmation, a decision that was made due to Mulvaney's past opposition to budget increases for the military.  Under the leadership of a fiscal hawk, OMB will play an important role in the Trump Administration's plans to rein in overly burdensome regulations.  The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), in OMB, which conducts reviews proposed regulations and evaluates the economic impacts, is expected to fulfill its role as a check on regulatory overreach more effectively in the new Administration. The confirmation of Mick Mulvaney also allows for OMB to begin reviewing agency budget proposals, a process that has been on hold while there was not a Director in place.

The Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) largely along party lines with a final vote of 52-46.  Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke with the Democratic Party and voted for Pruitt while Susan Collins of Maine voted against his confirmation.  Pruitt's confirmation is seen as a coup for the Administration and Republican Party who criticized the EPA loudly for regulatory overreach under the Obama Administration.  Pruitt has a long history of legal challenges to various EPA regulations and his confirmation has been opposed by environmentalists who view him as an enemy to the stated goals of the EPA.  For industry, Pruitt's confirmation is another signal that the regulatory environment in the United States will become substantially friendlier to business and traditional industrial developments. 

As Congress continues using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to revoke various regulations from the last year of Obama's Administration these two confirmations will be shaping the new Administration's regulatory agenda in its new direction.

Tags:  administration  cabinet  confirmation  EPA  Mulvaney  OMB  Pruitt  Regulations  Senate  Trump 

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IMA-NA Supports New Investment in US Infrastructure

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Updated: Friday, March 3, 2017

IMA-NA along with 391 other stakeholders and industries sent a letter to President Drumpf and Congress supporting the development and passage of an infrastructure investment initiative.The broad base of support includes national organizations as well as state and local groups from all 50 states. The united voice behind the letter demonstrates the far reaching support to bring the infrastructure in the United States into the 21st century. Today, Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) began the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America, by referencing the letter. 

IMA-NA supports a reinvestment in US infrastructure and commends both President Drumpf and Congress for working to prioritize initiatives to update, repair, and improve infrastructure across the country. 

To read the letter please download the attachment. 

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  administration  infrastructure  legislation  letter  Trump 

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First Friday Ask IMA - This Friday

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, January 31, 2017

IMA-NA will be convening First Friday's Ask IMA this Friday, February 3rd at 1:00pm EST. Following the Inauguration on January 20th, Donald Trump's Administration is officially underway. IMA-NA staff will take the opportunity this Friday to review the legislative, regulatory, and executive actions that could impact our industry in the coming months. We'll discuss IMA-NA's upcoming actions to represent the interests of the industrial minerals industry and answer any questions participants have on recent happenings in DC.

To Register Click Here. 

Tags:  administration  first friday  legislation  member outreach  outreach  Regulations  Trump 

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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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Endangered Species Coalition Lists Greater Sage Grouse as a Priority Species for Trump Administration

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, December 22, 2016

On Wednesday, the Endangered Species Coalition (Coalition) released it's "Top Ten” list of species in need of strong conservation measures. The report is targeted at the incoming Trump Administration as a way to influence the conservation agenda of the new President.  Despite the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (Fish and Wildlife) decision in 2015 to remove the Greater Sage-Grouse from the Endangered species candidate list, the Coalition flagged Greater Sage-Grouse as a species in need of increased conservation efforts. Fish and Wildlife withdrew the Sage Grouse from consideration following the successful implementation of conservation efforts on the state level. The decision was made following the  "unprecedented conservation partnership across the western United States that [...] significantly reduced threats to the greater sage-grouse across 90 percent of the species’ breeding habitat."  The Coalition's report demonstrates a renewed interest from the environmental and conservation groups to elevate the listing of the Sage Grouse with the hope of taking millions of acres offline for development of any kind. While it is unlikely the Trump Administration would reopen the recent decision on the Sage Grouse it is important to note the species is still on the radar of conservation groups. 

To read the full report click here

Tags:  administration  conservation  Endangered Species  Fish and Wildlife  FWS  Greater Sage Grouse  regulations  sage grouse 

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Representative Ryan Zinke Tapped to be Secretary of Interior

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, December 16, 2016

On Thursday, President Elect Trump announced his nomination of Representative Ryan Zinke (R-MT) for the position of Secretary of Interior in his Cabinet. The choice of the single term Representative from Montana demonstrated President Elect Trump's willingness to appoint Cabinet positions to unexpected choices.Previously, meetings with Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) seemed to indicate she would be the President Elect's nominee for the Department of Interior.

Prior to winning the Montana At-Large congressional seat in 2014, Rep. Zinke had an illustrious and long career as a Navy Seal. Rep. Zinke served the country for 22 years (1986-2008) in various capacities within the Navy Seal program. Upon leaving the Navy Rep. Zinke stepped into the state political arena, where he served as a state Senator from 2009-2011. In his time as Montana's At-Large Representative, Zinke served on the House Committee of Natural Resources and the Committee on Armed Services. In his relatively short political career, Rep. Zinke has styled himself as a Teddy Roosevelt Republican who aims to balance conservation with reasonable federal land use. As an avid hunter and outdoorsman, Zinke supports responsible stewardship of our public lands. He was a vocal opponent of the designating the Greater Sage Grouse as an endangered species, a move that would have severely undercut land usage out west. 

Based on his record in the 114th Congress, Rep. Zinke appears to be a champion for balancing business, community, economic, and conservation needs across the United States. IMA-NA is looking forward to welcoming Rep. Zinke as the Secretary of Interior following his confirmation.

Tags:  administration  appointee  department of interior  Greater Sage Grouse  nominee  president  sage grouse  Secretary of Interior  transition team  Trump  Zinke 

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EPA Releases Study on the Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, December 15, 2016

On Tuesday, the EPA released its long-awaited final report evaluating the available scientific literature and data to assess the potential for activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle to impact the quality or quantity of drinking water resources.  It also identified factors that affect the frequency and severity of those impacts.  While EPA found scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances, it implicitly found that it did not in other circumstances. The final report deviates from the first version, which stated unequivocally that there was "no evidence that fracking systemically contaminates water". Thomas A. Burke, the E.P.A.’s science adviser, and deputy assistant administrator of the agency’s Office of Research and Development, addressed the change by stating EPA scientists couldn't quantitatively support the former conclusion.  Mr. Burke did go on to highlighting the data gaps and uncertainties that existed in the study which limited its ability to fully assess the potential impacts on drinking water resources and could not fully characterize the severity of impacts. Additionally, EPA stated it could neither calculate nor estimate the national frequency of impacts on drinking water resources. 

It's important to note that the report will contribute to the conversation surrounding the incoming Administration's stated policy to decrease regulations and increase investment in natural gas development and hydraulic fracturing. 

Additional information on the 666-page final report can be accessed through this link.

Tags:  administration  EPA  fracking  hydraulic fracturing  Regulations  study 

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