House republicans pushed through a bill that would help speed up government reviews of mining projects on September 19.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mark Amodei, (R-NV) would make it harder for opponents to mount legal challenges against new ventures and sets a 30-month timeline for environmental reviews.
Currently, the average time for a mine to move through the permitting process to production in the United States is seven to 10 years. The bill would give U.S. officials discretion to waive federal environmental reviews and accept state reviews instead. It also sets a 60-day limit to file legal challenges.
Opponents called the bill a giveaway to the mining industry and an environmental disaster.
The House approved the bill, 246-178. Fifteen Democrats supported the bill. No Republicans opposed it. The measure is expected to die in the Democratic-run Senate, ABC News reported.
The White House issued a statement opposing the bill, saying it would “undermine and remove” important environmental safeguards.
The legislation also undermines laws requiring multiple uses of public lands by placing mining interests above all other uses, the White House said, calling the measure a threat to hunting, fishing, recreation and other activities that create jobs and sustain local economies across the country.
Amodei said it was needed to end permitting delays that rank the United States below most other countries in approving new mining projects.
“Duplicative regulations, bureaucratic inefficiency and lack of coordination between federal agencies are threatening the economic recovery of my home state and jeopardizing our national security,” said Amodei, a former president of the Nevada Mining Association.