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WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo (both R-Idaho) joined Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) this week in a letter to the Departments of the Interior (DOI) and Agriculture (USDA), questioning whether they would produce a report outlining options to improve the federal mineral permitting process on the timeframe required by federal law. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law on November 15, 2021, required the Departments to complete the report within one year of enactment. However, both have failed to adhere to that statutory deadline.

The Senators noted the law details nine methods for permitting improvement and “…establishes a deadline of one year from enactment for your Departments to issue a new report that identifies additional regulatory and legislative measures that would increase the timeliness of permitting, ensure adequate staffing for the timely consideration of authorizations on federal land, and quantify the period of time required to complete each step of the permitting process.”

 “These are serious and substantial requirements that represent a first step to address serious deficiencies in the federal permitting process,” the Senators continued. “Yet DOI and USDA have outwardly paid little attention to them, and internally appear to have devoted critical resources to discretionary projects that trace back to Executive Orders, rather than legally binding federal statutes…”

“As our mineral security and foreign mineral dependence become more important at a time of rising global demand, Congress remains focused on a variety of means to encourage new domestic production,” the Senators wrote.

U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) also signed the letter.

To read the full letter, click here.

Background: Section 40206 of the bipartisan infrastructure law is drawn from Senator Murkowski's American Mineral Security Act, which Senators Risch and Crapo cosponsored.

Rather than focusing on the statutory requirement to complete the permitting report and associated work, DOI and USDA have instead prioritized a discretionary Interagency Working Group that has pursued mining law reform, especially new royalties and fees that would raise the costs of hardrock mining and limit domestic supply.

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