Stauber Introduces Legislation to reform Permitting of Critical Mineral Projects
Minnesota Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08) introduced the Accessing America’s Critical Minerals Act, legislation that brings commonsense reforms to the permitting process for critical mineral projects on federal lands in Minnesota’s Eighth District, and nationwide.
Stauber spoke to the 2021 SME Minnesota Conference via zoom on April 15 and told the attendees that he would introduce the bill. “Accessing America’s First Minerals Act means three things: more timeliness, transparency and reasonableness in our permitting. We have to push for the right reasons and at the right time and we are doing that.”
As the Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Stauber has made it a top priority to address the most burdensome regulations that have delayed mining projects for years and kept the United States reliant on foreign minerals.
“For too long, activist groups have been able to hijack the permitting process, leaving our workers sidelined to wait for high quality jobs. Meanwhile, we ramp up dependency on foreign nations for minerals that we have in our own backyard,” Stauber said. “Northeast Minnesota is blessed with an abundance of critical minerals, giving our union members and skilled workers an exciting opportunity to help the United States break free of its dependence on hostile foreign nations for the resources that are integral to our modern way of life. We need these critical minerals now, and not in two decades. That’s why I am proud to introduce legislation that will create a more timely, transparent, and reasonable permitting process.”
The bill would require permitting to finish within two and a half years, prevent "duplication" of work by federal agencies if it's already done by a state agency and set performance standards and other timelines to track permitting agencies.
In Minnesota, the bill, if passed, would affect Twin Metals, a proposed underground copper-nickel mine, processing facility and dry-stacked tailings facility along the shores of Birch Lake, which flows into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness via the Kawishiwi River.
The project, which sits on several federal mineral leases, has been under review by state and federal regulators since December 2019.
PolyMet, which faces numerous court challenges, is vying to be the state's first copper-nickel mine. It sits outside the Superior National Forest and has no federal mineral leases, so its permitting process was handled primarily by state agencies.
“The National Mining Association applauds the introduction of the Accessing America’s Critical Minerals Act of 2021, which takes strong steps to prioritize our nation’s mineral supply chain for our economic and national security, and will be key to making the administration’s goals around supply chain security a reality,” Rich Nolan, President and CEO of the National Mining Association said. “The permitting reforms contained within provide a path forward to supporting bipartisan initiatives related to domestic manufacturing, transportation and energy infrastructure, healthcare, and national defense, among others.”
Frank Ongaro, Executive Director of Mining Minnesota said of the bill, “Mining Minnesota supports the efforts to assure a domestic critical mineral supply needed for a more sustainable future. The Accessing America’s Critical Minerals Act of 2021 proposes important steps toward timely science-based environmental review and permitting to assure environmentally responsible domestic mining for the metals necessary to support our growing energy, infrastructure, healthcare goals.”