Mining school funding bill introduced to US Senate
A new bill that would require the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy to establish a competitive grant program that would provide $10 million a year for eight years to eligible colleges and universities to train the next generation of mining engineers and other mining professionals was introduced to Congress. The bill is known as the Technology Grants to Strengthen Domestic Mining Education Act of 2022.
The bill is sponsored by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Joe Manchin (D-WV), the Committee Chair. It will be referred to that committee for a hearing in the coming weeks.
Dave Kanagy, SME Executive Director, said, “The bill is an important first step in addressing what has been a longstanding decline in both mining school enrollment and graduation rates. Since 1980, the number of colleges and universities with accredited mining engineering programs has decreased from 25 to 14 in 2020.” He added, “The number of graduating students with mining engineering degrees has also declined substantially.” A briefing paper prepared by SME illustrates the severity of this trend, noting that the number of graduates has decreased by 43 percent since 2015 alone.
“The decline in mining school enrollment and graduation rates is a national crisis,” Kanagy reported. “And it comes at a time when the nation is becoming even more reliant on critical and rare earth minerals imported from foreign countries.” Minerals are needed to support the U.S. economy, national security, and the transition to clean energy.
The bill would allow eligible colleges and universities, including both public and private institutions, to apply for competitive grants to assist with recruitment of the best and brightest students; to fund important research of technologies to increase domestic production of critical minerals and reduce dependence on imported minerals; and to develop better technologies to protect the environment.
Sponsored by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Joe Manchin (D-WV), the Committee Chair, the bill will be referred to that committee for a hearing in the coming weeks.
This bipartisan legislation will increase and improve opportunities for university and college mining and geological programs to prepare students to meet America’s future energy needs.
“Wyoming’s miners are essential to powering America’s economy. The Mining Schools Act will help support mining communities in the West,” said Ranking Member Barrasso. “Our bipartisan legislation will create opportunities for mining schools to strengthen their programs and recruit the next generation of American energy producers. We will need a strong mining workforce to meet the demand for American energy and minerals. I am thankful to Chairman Manchin for his partnership on this important bill.”
“A strong and skilled mining workforce is critical to reducing our reliance on foreign supply chains, increasing our deployment of renewable energy technologies and maintaining our energy security. In the last few years, however, this workforce has decreased as universities across the country struggle to enroll students in their mining and geological engineering programs. My bipartisan Mining Schools Act of 2022 addresses this decline by providing schools with the tools they need to recruit qualified students and maintain these crucial programs, ensuring the next generation is equipped with the skills and training necessary to develop innovative mining technologies that strengthen our nation’s position as a global energy leader,” said Chairman Manchin.