Text: H.R.1937 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)All Information (Except Text)

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Referred in Senate (10/26/2015)

 
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[H.R. 1937 Referred in Senate (RFS)]

<DOC>
114th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 1937


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                            October 26, 2015

   Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and 
                           Natural Resources

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT


 
     To require the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of 
    Agriculture to more efficiently develop domestic sources of the 
minerals and mineral materials of strategic and critical importance to 
    United States economic and national security and manufacturing 
                            competitiveness.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``National Strategic and Critical 
Minerals Production Act of 2015''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) The industrialization of developing nations has driven 
        demand for nonfuel minerals necessary for telecommunications, 
        military technologies, healthcare technologies, and 
        conventional and renewable energy technologies.
            (2) The availability of minerals and mineral materials are 
        essential for economic growth, national security, technological 
        innovation, and the manufacturing and agricultural supply 
        chain.
            (3) The exploration, production, processing, use, and 
        recycling of minerals contribute significantly to the economic 
        well-being, security, and general welfare of the Nation.
            (4) The United States has vast mineral resources, but is 
        becoming increasingly dependent upon foreign sources of these 
        mineral materials, as demonstrated by the following:
                    (A) Twenty-five years ago the United States was 
                dependent on foreign sources for 45 nonfuel mineral 
                materials, 8 of which the United States imported 100 
                percent of the Nation's requirements, and for another 
                19 commodities the United States imported more than 50 
                percent of the Nation's needs.
                    (B) By 2014 the United States import dependence for 
                nonfuel mineral materials increased from 45 to 65 
                commodities, 19 of which the United States imported for 
                100 percent of the Nation's requirements, and an 
                additional 24 of which the United States imported for 
                more than 50 percent of the Nation's needs.
                    (C) The United States share of worldwide mineral 
                exploration dollars was 7 percent in 2014, down from 19 
                percent in the early 1990s.
                    (D) In the 2014 Ranking of Countries for Mining 
                Investment (out of 25 major mining countries), found 
                that 7- to 10-year permitting delays are the most 
                significant risk to mining projects in the United 
                States.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Strategic and critical minerals.--The term ``strategic 
        and critical minerals'' means minerals that are necessary--
                    (A) for national defense and national security 
                requirements;
                    (B) for the Nation's energy infrastructure, 
                including pipelines, refining capacity, electrical 
                power generation and transmission, and renewable energy 
                production;
                    (C) to support domestic manufacturing, agriculture, 
                housing, telecommunications, healthcare, and 
                transportation infrastructure; or
                    (D) for the Nation's economic security and balance 
                of trade.
            (2) Agency.--The term ``agency'' means any agency, 
        department, or other unit of Federal, State, local, or tribal 
        government, or Alaska Native Corporation.
            (3) Mineral exploration or mine permit.--The term ``mineral 
        exploration or mine permit'' includes--
                    (A) Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service 
                authorizations for pre-mining activities that require 
                environmental analyses pursuant to the National 
                Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
                seq.); and
                    (B) plans of operation issued by the Bureau of Land 
                Management and the Forest Service pursuant to 43 CFR 
                3809 and 36 CFR 228A or the authorities listed in 43 
                CFR 3503.13, respectively, as amended from time to 
                time.

  TITLE I--DEVELOPMENT OF DOMESTIC SOURCES OF STRATEGIC AND CRITICAL 
                                MINERALS

SEC. 101. IMPROVING DEVELOPMENT OF STRATEGIC AND CRITICAL MINERALS.

    Domestic mines that will provide strategic and critical minerals 
shall be considered an ``infrastructure project'' as described in 
Presidential order ``Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and 
Review of Infrastructure Projects'' dated March 22, 2012.

SEC. 102. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE LEAD AGENCY.

    (a) In General.--The lead agency with responsibility for issuing a 
mineral exploration or mine permit shall appoint a project lead within 
the lead agency who shall coordinate and consult with cooperating 
agencies and any other agency involved in the permitting process, 
project proponents and contractors to ensure that agencies minimize 
delays, set and adhere to timelines and schedules for completion of the 
permitting process, set clear permitting goals and track progress 
against those goals.
    (b) Determination Under NEPA.--
            (1) In general.--To the extent that the National 
        Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) 
        applies to the issuance of any mineral exploration or mine 
        permit, the requirements of such Act shall be deemed to have 
        been procedurally and substantively satisfied if the lead 
        agency determines that any State and/or Federal agency acting 
        pursuant to State or Federal (or both) statutory or procedural 
        authorities, has addressed or will address the following 
        factors:
                    (A) The environmental impact of the action to be 
                conducted under the permit.
                    (B) Possible adverse environmental effects of 
                actions under the permit.
                    (C) Possible alternatives to issuance of the 
                permit.
                    (D) The relationship between local long- and short-
                term uses of man's environment and the maintenance and 
                enhancement of long-term productivity.
                    (E) Any irreversible and irretrievable commitment 
                of resources that would be involved in the proposed 
                action.
                    (F) That public participation will occur during the 
                decisionmaking process for authorizing actions under 
                the permit.
            (2) Written requirement.--In reaching a determination under 
        paragraph (1), the lead agency shall, by no later than 90 days 
        after receipt of an application for the permit, in a written 
        record of decision--
                    (A) explain the rationale used in reaching its 
                determination;
                    (B) state the facts in the record that are the 
                basis for the determination; and
                    (C) show that the facts in the record could allow a 
                reasonable person to reach the same determination as 
                the lead agency did.
    (c) Coordination on Permitting Process.--The lead agency with 
responsibility for issuing a mineral exploration or mine permit shall 
enhance government coordination for the permitting process by avoiding 
duplicative reviews, minimizing paperwork, and engaging other agencies 
and stakeholders early in the process. For purposes of this subsection, 
the lead agency shall consider the following practices:
            (1) Deferring to and relying upon baseline data, analyses 
        and reviews performed by State agencies with jurisdiction over 
        the proposed project.
            (2) Conducting any consultations or reviews concurrently 
        rather than sequentially to the extent practicable and when 
        such concurrent review will expedite rather than delay a 
        decision.
    (d) Memorandum of Agency Agreement.--If requested at any time by a 
State or local planning agency, the lead agency with responsibility for 
issuing a mineral exploration or mine permit, in consultation with 
other Federal agencies with relevant jurisdiction in the environmental 
review process, may establish memoranda of agreement with the project 
sponsor, State and local governments, and other appropriate entities to 
accomplish the early coordination activities described in subsection 
(c).
    (e) Schedule for Permitting Process.--For any project for which the 
lead agency cannot make the determination described in 102(b), at the 
request of a project proponent the lead agency, cooperating agencies, 
and any other agencies involved with the mineral exploration or mine 
permitting process shall enter into an agreement with the project 
proponent that sets time limits for each part of the permitting 
process, including for the following:
            (1) The decision on whether to prepare a document required 
        under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 
        4321 et seq.).
            (2) A determination of the scope of any document required 
        under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
            (3) The scope of and schedule for the baseline studies 
        required to prepare a document required under the National 
        Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
            (4) Preparation of any draft document required under the 
        National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
            (5) Preparation of a final document required under the 
        National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
            (6) Consultations required under applicable laws.
            (7) Submission and review of any comments required under 
        applicable law.
            (8) Publication of any public notices required under 
        applicable law.
            (9) A final or any interim decisions.
    (f) Time Limit for Permitting Process.--In no case should the total 
review process described in subsection (d) exceed 30 months unless 
extended by the signatories of the agreement.
    (g) Limitation on Addressing Public Comments.--The lead agency is 
not required to address agency or public comments that were not 
submitted during any public comment periods or consultation periods 
provided during the permitting process or as otherwise required by law.
    (h) Financial Assurance.--The lead agency will determine the amount 
of financial assurance for reclamation of a mineral exploration or 
mining site, which must cover the estimated cost if the lead agency 
were to contract with a third party to reclaim the operations according 
to the reclamation plan, including construction and maintenance costs 
for any treatment facilities necessary to meet Federal, State or tribal 
environmental standards.
    (i) Application to Existing Permit Applications.--This section 
shall apply with respect to a mineral exploration or mine permit for 
which an application was submitted before the date of the enactment of 
this Act if the applicant for the permit submits a written request to 
the lead agency for the permit. The lead agency shall begin 
implementing this section with respect to such application within 30 
days after receiving such written request.
    (j) Strategic and Critical Minerals Within National Forests.--With 
respect to strategic and critical minerals within a federally 
administered unit of the National Forest System, the lead agency 
shall--
            (1) exempt all areas of identified mineral resources in 
        Land Use Designations, other than Non-Development Land Use 
        Designations, in existence as of the date of the enactment of 
        this Act from the procedures detailed at and all rules 
        promulgated under part 294 of title 36, Code of Federal 
        Regulations;
            (2) apply such exemption to all additional routes and areas 
        that the lead agency finds necessary to facilitate the 
        construction, operation, maintenance, and restoration of the 
        areas of identified mineral resources described in paragraph 
        (1); and
            (3) continue to apply such exemptions after approval of the 
        Minerals Plan of Operations for the unit of the National Forest 
        System.

SEC. 103. CONSERVATION OF THE RESOURCE.

    In evaluating and issuing any mineral exploration or mine permit, 
the priority of the lead agency shall be to maximize the development of 
the mineral resource, while mitigating environmental impacts, so that 
more of the mineral resource can be brought to the marketplace.

SEC. 104. FEDERAL REGISTER PROCESS FOR MINERAL EXPLORATION AND MINING 
              PROJECTS.

    (a) Preparation of Federal Notices for Mineral Exploration and Mine 
Development Projects.--The preparation of Federal Register notices 
required by law associated with the issuance of a mineral exploration 
or mine permit shall be delegated to the organization level within the 
agency responsible for issuing the mineral exploration or mine permit. 
All Federal Register notices regarding official document availability, 
announcements of meetings, or notices of intent to undertake an action 
shall be originated and transmitted to the Federal Register from the 
office where documents are held, meetings are held, or the activity is 
initiated.
    (b) Departmental Review of Federal Register Notices for Mineral 
Exploration and Mining Projects.--Absent any extraordinary circumstance 
or except as otherwise required by any Act of Congress, each Federal 
Register notice described in subsection (a) shall undergo any required 
reviews within the Department of the Interior or the Department of 
Agriculture and be published in its final form in the Federal Register 
no later than 30 days after its initial preparation.

TITLE II--JUDICIAL REVIEW OF AGENCY ACTIONS RELATING TO EXPLORATION AND 
                              MINE PERMITS

SEC. 201. DEFINITIONS FOR TITLE.

    In this title the term ``covered civil action'' means a civil 
action against the Federal Government containing a claim under section 
702 of title 5, United States Code, regarding agency action affecting a 
mineral exploration or mine permit.

SEC. 202. TIMELY FILINGS.

    A covered civil action is barred unless filed no later than the end 
of the 60-day period beginning on the date of the final Federal agency 
action to which it relates.

SEC. 203. RIGHT TO INTERVENE.

    The holder of any mineral exploration or mine permit may intervene 
as of right in any covered civil action by a person affecting rights or 
obligations of the permit holder under the permit.

SEC. 204. EXPEDITION IN HEARING AND DETERMINING THE ACTION.

    The court shall endeavor to hear and determine any covered civil 
action as expeditiously as possible.

SEC. 205. LIMITATION ON PROSPECTIVE RELIEF.

    In a covered civil action, the court shall not grant or approve any 
prospective relief unless the court finds that such relief is narrowly 
drawn, extends no further than necessary to correct the violation of a 
legal requirement, and is the least intrusive means necessary to 
correct that violation.

SEC. 206. LIMITATION ON ATTORNEYS' FEES.

    Section 504 of title 5, United States Code, and section 2412 of 
title 28, United States Code (together commonly called the Equal Access 
to Justice Act) do not apply to a covered civil action, nor shall any 
party in such a covered civil action receive payment from the Federal 
Government for their attorneys' fees, expenses, and other court costs.

                  TITLE III--MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

SEC. 301. SECRETARIAL ORDER NOT AFFECTED.

    This Act shall not apply to any mineral described in Secretarial 
Order No. 3324, issued by the Secretary of


              

 the Interior on December 3, 2012, in any area to which the order 
applies.

            Passed the House of Representatives October 22, 2015.

            Attest:

                                                 KAREN L. HAAS,

                                                                 Clerk.

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