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Senate Confirms Andrew Wheeler as 2nd at EPA

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, April 13, 2018
Yesterday the Senate confirmed Andrew Wheeler as Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by a vote of 53-45. Democratic Senators Manchin (WV), Heitkamp (ND), and Donnelly (IN) broke party lines to vote in favor of Andrew Wheeler.  Neither Senator Duckworth (IL) nor Senator McCain (AZ) were in town to vote. Wheeler has been one of several controversial nominees President Trump has put forward to lead the EPA. The controversy stems from Wheeler's previous work both for as Chief of Staff for Senator Inhofe, a vocal climate change skeptic, and his work as a lobbyist for Murray Energy, a coal company. As Deputy Administrator Wheeler will be Administrator Pruitt's second in command of the EPA. Critics argued Wheeler's existing relationships made him unfit to help lead the agency in charge of protecting the environment. He was nominated in November and was voted out of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) in February. This Administration continues to have many vacancies in important roles throughout the government. IMA-NA is happy to see Andrew Wheeler confirmed and hopes this allows the EPA to continue its important work unrestricted by gaps in staffing. 

Tags:  Administration  Andrew Wheeler  confirmation  EPA  nomination  Pruitt 

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IMA-NA Comments on Draft List of Critical Minerals

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Monday, March 19, 2018

On February 16th, the Department of Interior published their Draft List of Critical Minerals. This Draft List is the next step in implementing President Trump's goals set in Executive Order 13817, “A Federal Strategy To Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals,” issued on December 20, 2017. The Executive Order recognizes the importance of mineral commodities generally, but specifically certain mineral commodities vital to the security and prosperity of the United States. The Secretary of the Interior’s Draft List of Critical Minerals (“Draft List” or “List”) similarly recognizes the importance of mineral commodities generally, with a particular focus on 35 minerals or mineral material groups currently considered critical. 

It is important to note that the Draft List includes barite as a critical mineral. IMA-NA is clearly supportive of the inclusion of barite on the List, but also sees the development of a standard methodology for evaluating our mineral supply chain as a big step in the government prioritizing mineral resources. 

Click here to read IMA-NA's comments

Tags:  administration  barite  critical minerals  department of interior  DOI  minerals science  president  Regulations  Trump 

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Small Business Administration Regulatory Reform Roundtable Schedule

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, March 1, 2018

As part of the Administration's ongoing efforts to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is conducting a series of Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables across the country. These Roundtables will provide another forum for the SBA to hear directly from small businesses about what regulations concern them the most. In March, the SBA will be convening meetings in the following cities:

· Detroit, Michigan;
· Milwaukee, Wisconsin;
· San Antonio, Texas;
· Houston Texas; and
· Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 

Below you can find the information for each Roundtable as well as the links to RSVP. IMA-NA continues to be engaged in the conversation, highlighting regulations that impact our industry; but we encourage IMA-NA members to take advantage of the opportunity to speak directly to the SBA in your communities. 

Regulatory Reform Roundtables– March 2018 Schedule of Events

 

Tuesday, March 13th — Detroit, Michigan 

8:30 am – 12:30 pm Regulatory Reform Roundtable

Woodward Ballroom at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Detroit Southfield, 28100 Franklin Road, Southfield, MI 48034

Information and Registration link

 

Friday , March 16th — Milwaukee, WI 

8:30 am - 12:30 pm Regulatory Reform Roundtable

Schlitz Park, 1555 N Rivercenter Dr., Conference Room #3, Milwaukee, WI 53212

Information and Registration link

*SBA Administrator Linda McMahon will be in attendance

 

Monday, March 19th — San Antonio, TX 

8:30 am – 12:30 pm Regulatory Reform Roundtable

UTSA Downtown Campus, Durango Building, SBDC Training Room, 501 W. Cesar Chavez Blvd., San Antonio, Texas, 78207

Information and Registration link 

 

Tuesday, March 20th — Houston, TX 

8:30 am – 12:30 pm Regulatory Reform Roundtable

Marriott West Loop by the Galleria, 1750 West Loop S., Houston, Texas, 77027

Information and Registration link

 

Thursday, March 22nd — Philadelphia, PA 

8:30 am – 12:30 pm Regulatory Reform Roundtable

Paul Peck Alumni Gallery at Drexel University, 32nd and Market Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Information and Registration link

Tags:  administration  Regulations  regulatory agenda  SBA  Small Business Administration  Trump 

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President Trump Releases FY19 Budget Proposal & Congress Passes 2-Year Budget

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Monday, February 12, 2018

This morning President Trump released his Administration's budget proposal for FY19. The Administration's budget comes on the heels of the passage of Congress's 2-year budget package. President Trump signed the deal into law Friday morning following it's passage late Thursday night. Congress's package raises budget caps by $300 billion in the next two years, increases the debt ceiling and includes nearly $90 billion in disaster relief for hurricane-ravaged Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Of the $300 billion, roughly $165 would go to the Pentagon with $131 billion earmarked for non-defense programs. 

President Trump's budget lays out plans for a $3.6 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years while simultaneously directing more funding to the Department of Defense. In many ways the FY19 budget proposal is similar to the FY18 proposal. It is interesting to note the Administration is pushing a focus on infrastructure across it's budget proposal, most likely as a way to sync the budget requests up with the infrastructure package. Below are some specific points of interest from the proposal, as each Department holds listening sessions IMA-NA staff will keep you updated on aspects of importance.

EPA

  • The Administration is asking for a further reduction of 34% in funding for the EPA. This would cap the Agency's budget at $5.4 billion for FY19. 
  • There is an emphasis on water infrastructure programs, to provide clean drinking water and provide necessary updates on wastewater infrastructure.
  • There is an increased focus on cooperative federalism as a way to improve EPA's enforcement efforts. This also includes a return to the EPA's core mission, and the continued defunding of "lower priority programs". 

Department of Commerce

  • The Administration is asking for $9.8 billion for the DOC, which would be an increase of 6% over FY17 enacted funding.
  • There is increased funding for the International Trade Administration to "allow ITA to conduct robust investigations into alleged trade violations, aggressively advocate for U.S. businesses facing tariff and non-tariff barriers abroad, and increase the capacity to closely review proposed foreign investments in U.S. businesses."
  • DOC's focus will continue to be promoting free and fair trade which has been a cornerstone of President Trump's vision for the country. 

Department of Labor

  • The Administration is asking for $9.4 billion for DOL, a $2.6 billion or 21-percent decrease from the 2017 enacted level.
  • The President is asking for a budget of $376 for MSHA in FY19. The number is consistent with the FY18 request from the Administration.
  • There is a renewed focus on using DOL funding to help move the needle on workforce development. There is $200 million flagged for increasing apprenticeship programs, language to reform Job Corps, and simplify and consolidate existing federal workforce development programs. 

Department of Interior

  • The Administration is requesting $11.3 billion for DOI, which is a $2.2 billion or 16-percent decrease from the 2017 enacted level.
  • The DOI will continue to focus on the President's call for Energy Dominance, working to manage development of public lands, increase revenues, and streamlining permits.
  • There is a focus on infrastructure in this request, noting that DOI manages an infrastructure portfolio valued at over $300 billion and much of it is in need of maintenance and investment.
  • Secretary Zinke gained the President's support to massively reorganize the Department. The budget asks for $18 million to fund the internal restructuring of DOI.
  • Funding for USGS is being cut by approximately $218 million overall, but the Administration asked for an increase of $11.5 million for the Minerals and Energy Resources Program.

To look at the President's Budget Proposal click here

Tags:  administration  budget  commerce  department of interior  EPA  msha  usgs 

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IMA-NA Urges Faster Confirmation of EPA Nominees

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, October 3, 2017

IMA-NA and NISA joined other industry groups in urging the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) to move forward expeditiously with the confirmations of the four EPA Assistant Administrators currently on the Committee's calendar. The Trump Administration still have a vast number of important positions within each Agency and Department that remain unfilled. While these positions remain vacant, or filled temporarily by career staff, the agencies are largely unable to move forward on important issues facing the nation. Tomorrow, October 4th, at 10am EST the EPW will be holding their hearing on the following nominees:

  • Michael Dourson, for EPA Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention;
  • Matthew Leopold, for EPA Assistant Administrator, Office of the General Counsel;
  • David Ross, for EPA Assistant Administrator, Office of Water; and
  • William Wehrum, for EPA Assistant Administrator, Office of Air & Radiation.

You can watch the hearing live here

To read the industry letter urging swift confirmation of the nominees click here

Tags:  administration  Agency  confirmation  Department  EPA  hearing  nominee 

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IMA-NA Signs Letter of Support for Funding USGS Library

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Last week IMA-NA signed onto a letter along with other industry groups and geoscience organizations asking Congress to maintain FY17's funding level, of $5.8 million, for the US Geological Survey's (USGS) Library.  The Library is one of the world’s largest and most important Earth and natural resources libraries and provides an estimated return of over $7 to every $1 invested. The $45 million annual value is calculated according to what it would cost to reproduce the Library's information and services in the open market. The President's FY18 budget request includes a $3 million reduction in funding for the USGS Library. This substantial cut would result in the closure of 3, and potentially all 4, of the library locations and the elimination of 75% of the library employees. Additionally, the collections would also be placed in a dark archive. These cuts would effectively prohibit the general public, as well as the majority of USGS staff, from accessing the information of the USGS Library and prevent further financial return on the science housed in the library.

IMA-NA signed onto a letter urging Congress to continue funding the library at previous levels. As Chair of the Minerals Science and Information Coalition, IMA-NA feels there is substantial value in the geoscience contained in the USGS Library. An investment in the science that underpins the mining industry, is an investment in the mining industry's future in the United States. The USGS Library is a good example of a program that provides a substantial return on a, relatively small, investment in US geoscience. 

You'll find the letter attached below.

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  administration  budget  Congress  legislation  letter  minerals science  msic  usgs 

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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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