House to vote on bill streamlining mine permitting process
Written byLAURA LUNDQUIST, Bozeman Daily Chronicle
A bill being debated on the U.S. House floor Wednesday would reduce the time and effort required to get a hardrock mine permit on federal land by bypassing some public comment and federal oversight.
The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012 would classify hardrock mining operations as “infrastructure” projects, which were granted abbreviated permitting and review processes by President Barack Obama in a March 22 executive order. The executive order was intended to reduce permitting times for deteriorating national infrastructure such as roads, bridges and electrical transmission. But bill sponsor Rep. Mark Amodel, R-Nev., extended the definition to mines that produce the raw material to build infrastructure.
The bill would reduce permit requirements in three main ways.
It would allow federal agencies such as the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, to eliminate a review of a proposal under the National Environmental Policy Act. NEPA requires either an assessment or a more-stringent impact statement outlining a spectrum of environmental and economic options and invites public comment for all projects on federal lands.
The length of the permitting process would be limited to 2.5 years.
Finally, the bill would require that lawsuits challenging any permit be filed within 60 days of any federal action.VIEW ORIGINAL ARTICLE