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House Republican leaders are set to introduce permitting reform legislation Thursday that aims to shore up the domestic critical mineral supply chain and promote energy independence.

The Securing American Mineral Supply Chain Act, led by House Natural Resources Committee ranking member Bruce Westerman, R-Arc, will streamline permitting and approval processes for hard rock mining projects nationwide. Minerals such as lithium, cobalt, copper and nickel are important for both clean energy and defense technologies, but are largely mined and refined abroad.


“We’re blessed with deposits here in America and we’re not growing them,” Westman told Fox Business in an interview. “It would be one thing if we didn’t have these mineral deposits here in the US and we had to buy them from people like China, but the fact is we’ve got the stuff we need here.”

“This ‘not in my backyard’ ideology that the Left has been pushing is something we’ve got to change course,” he continued. “We cannot continue exporting our assets to China and Russia.”

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Westerman’s bill — which House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., co-sponsored — would designate a single federal agency to coordinate mine permitting, setting a deadline for approval, and existing mining. Will prohibit reversal of permits, will promote new ones. Research to boost domestic production and ordered the Energy Department to create a strategic uranium reserve that reduces Russia’s reliance for the element.

The legislation is largely intended to reduce uncertainty for companies and investors involved in mining projects.

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“You’ve got mining operations, and you’ve got further processing,” Westerman said. “The bill addresses the barriers that are holding back jobs in both those sectors.”

“We already do mining better than anywhere in the world, but we want to remain cutting edge and refine those technologies in mining and processing.”

However, according to a White House supply chain report last year, China mines about 55% of global mineral resources and refins 85%. By comparison, the US mined only 6% of global copper supply, 5.7% of global zinc supply, 0.67% of global nickel supply, 0.4% of global cobalt supply and 0% of global graphite supply last year.

Heavy permitting procedures and environmental reviews, backed by Democrats and green groups, have prevented the country from boosting mineral supplies, according to Westerman and industry groups. The Biden administration has rescinded or introduced obstacles to approval for large mining projects in Alaska, Arizona, Minnesota and Nevada since taking office, citing various environmental and wildlife protections.

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Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., President of Natural Resources, and Sen. Martin Henrik, D.M. introduced legislation in May that would increase the ban on mining despite his personal support for clean energy and the green transition from fossil fuels. The bill was supported by several environmental groups that also support green energy efforts.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., makes a closing statement during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 29, 2020 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Bonnie Cash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

“If you go back and look at the Build Back Better Act – the same bill they were saying we need to electrify everything and run out of fossil fuels, build electric cars, and they have to decarbonize the grid. These were all incentives to do it,” Westerman explained. Fox Business. “The same bill contained provisions such as the closure of the Resolve copper mine in Superior, Arizona, which could supply 20% of US demand for copper for the next 50 years.”

“They were going to spend $350 million in taxpayer dollars to close a mine, which has $2 billion invested,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senate Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin, DW.Va., unveiled its own permitting bill Wednesday evening that will try to fast-track energy projects, including fossil fuel infrastructure. Manchin said the bill would be applied to a government funding law that Congress would have to pass by the end of the month to avoid the shutdown.

However, dozens of Democratic lawmakers led by Grijalva have declared their opposition to the bill.