H. Rept. 113-138 - 113th Congress (2013-2014)
July 08, 2013, As Reported by the Natural Resources Committee

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House Report 113-138 - NATIONAL STRATEGIC AND CRITICAL MINERALS PRODUCTION ACT OF 2013




[House Report 113-138]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]


113th Congress                                            Rept. 113-138
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                     Part 1

======================================================================



 
    NATIONAL STRATEGIC AND CRITICAL MINERALS PRODUCTION ACT OF 2013

                                _______
                                

  July 8, 2013.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Hastings of Washington, from the Committee on Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 761]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 761) 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, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon with an amendment 
and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.
    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``National Strategic and Critical 
Minerals Production Act of 2013''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

  Congress finds the following:
          (1) The industrialization of China and India has driven 
        demand for nonfuel mineral commodities, sparking a period of 
        resource nationalism exemplified by China's reduction in 
        exports of rare-earth elements 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 30 nonfuel mineral 
                materials, 6 of which the United States imported 100 
                percent of the Nation's requirements, and for another 
                16 commodities the United States imported more than 60 
                percent of the Nation's needs.
                  (B) By 2011 the United States import dependence for 
                nonfuel mineral materials had more than doubled from 30 
                to 67 commodities, 19 of which the United States 
                imported 100 percent of the Nation's requirements, and 
                for another 24 commodities, imported more than 50 
                percent of the Nation's needs.
                  (C) The United States share of worldwide mineral 
                exploration dollars was 8 percent in 2011, down from 19 
                percent in the early 1990s.
                  (D) In the 2012 Ranking of Countries for Mining 
                Investment, out of 25 major mining countries, the 
                United States ranked last with Papua New Guinea in 
                permitting delays, and towards the bottom regarding 
                government take and social issues affecting mining.

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 plans of operation issued 
        by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service 
        pursuant to 43 C.F.R. 3809 and 36 C.F.R. 228A or the 
        authorities listed in 43 C.F.R. 3503.13, respectively.

  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 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.--To the extent that the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 applies to any mineral exploration or 
mine permit, the lead agency with responsibility for issuing a mineral 
exploration or mine permit shall determine that the action to approve 
the exploration or mine permit does not constitute a major Federal 
action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment 
within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 if 
the procedural and substantive safeguards of the permitting process 
alone, any applicable State permitting process alone, or a combination 
of the two processes together provide an adequate mechanism to ensure 
that environmental factors are taken into account.
  (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. The lead agency shall consider 
the following best 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) Schedule for Permitting Process.--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 the following:
          (1) The decision on whether to prepare a document required 
        under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
          (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.
  (e) Time Limit for Permitting Process.--In no case should the total 
review process described in subsection (d) exceed 30 months unless 
agreed to by the signatories of the agreement.
  (f) 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.
  (g) 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.
  (h) 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.
  (i) 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 for 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 market place.

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.

  Sections 504 of title 5, United States Code, and 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.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 761 is 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.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    H.R. 761, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals 
Production Act of 2013, addresses the most significant 
roadblock to mineral exploration and development in the United 
States: permitting timelines. Currently the average timeframe 
for acquiring permits for domestic mine development on federal 
lands takes seven to ten years. This needless delay puts the 
United States at a competitive disadvantage with other mineral-
rich countries and leaves the U.S. more dependent on foreign 
sources of minerals and mined materials, including rare earth 
elements.
    Through 2011 the U.S. was almost 100 percent dependent on 
China for rare earth elements, even though the U.S. has 
economic deposits of these mineral resources and at one time 
had the largest market share in the world.
    H.R. 761 builds on successful highway legislation and 
Administrative guidance on permitting procedures for 
infrastructure and renewable energy projects by requiring the 
lead agency to coordinate and effectively communicate with all 
cooperating agencies, project proponents and other 
stakeholders. Furthermore, the bill eliminates duplicative 
analysis, provides for timely filings for litigants, and allows 
30 months for the lead agency to prepare, consider and reach a 
decision on permitting for mine development.
    In the three most recent Behre Dolbear's ``Ranking of 
Countries for Mining Investment'' reports, the United States 
ranks last with Papua New Guinea out of 25 major mining 
countries in permitting delays, and towards the bottom 
regarding government take and social issues affecting mining. 
According to Behre Dolbear, the United States has been last out 
of 25 major mining countries in permitting delays since 2005.
    Mineral production is a key economic activity, supplying 
strategic and critical metals and minerals essential for 
agriculture, communication, technology, construction, health 
care, manufacturing, transportation, and the arts. More 
specifically, strategic metals and metal alloys are an integral 
component of aerospace, defense, and other critical 
infrastructure. Minerals are also necessary to satisfy the 
basic requirements of an individual's well-being: food, 
clothing, shelter, and a clean, healthy environment.
    Mining of mineral resources creates tangible value, 
introducing new money into the nation's economic system. 
Additional tangible value is added to the raw mined product 
through manufacturing, construction, and other uses. Harvesting 
domestic mineral resources contributes to local economies, 
creates jobs, and benefits our nation's overall economic 
security.
    According to the National Research Council, one of the 
primary advantages the United States possesses over its 
strongest industrial competitors is its domestic resource base. 
The United States is among the world's largest producers of 
many important metals and minerals, particularly copper, gold, 
lead, molybdenum, silver, and zinc, and it still has 
substantial domestic reserves of these metals.
    Yet U.S. mineral exploration stagnated or declined during 
most of the 1990s and 2000s while global mineral exploration 
trends were strongly positive. In the early 1990s, the U.S. 
received 20 percent of the worldwide mineral exploration 
budget; today it hovers around 8 percent. Without increased 
domestic exploration, significant declines in U.S. mineral 
production are unavoidable as present reserves are exhausted.
    The lack of exploration expenditures and other factors 
described below has led to an increased import dependency for 
nonfuel mineral materials. For example, 25 years ago the United 
States was dependent on foreign sources for 30 non-fuel mineral 
materials, six of which were entirely imported to meet the 
nation's requirements and another 16 of which were imported to 
meet more than 60 percent of the nation's needs.
    By 2012, the U.S. import dependence for non-fuel mineral 
materials more than doubled from 30 to 61 commodities, with 17 
commodities imported entirely to meet the Nation's 
requirements, and another 24 commodities required imports of 
more than 50 percent.
    Working through the permitting process also became more 
cumbersome, as federal and state agencies with land management 
and regulatory responsibilities over mineral exploration and 
development projects worked at cross purposes to one another. 
Legal challenges to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
analyses by anti-mining groups also contributed to the delays 
and uncertainties in obtaining the necessary permits for 
exploration and development.
    For example, a recent (July 2011) analysis of the time 
required for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to prepare 
NEPA Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and Supplemental 
Environmental Impact Statements (SEIS) for mine expansion 
projects in Nevada, compiled by a mine permitting consultant 
using data from BLM EIS documents and district office websites, 
found that the average elapsed time for EIS documents for 11 
projects was 53 months and the average elapsed time for SEIS 
documents for 6 projects was 27 months. These EIS and SEIS 
documents were for expansion of operations at existing active 
mine sites, not virgin mine project areas with little existing 
surface disturbance.
    Currently the United States lacks a coherent national 
policy to assure domestic availability of minerals essential 
for national economic well-being, national security, and global 
economic competitiveness. The nation's dependence on China for 
rare-earth elements and rare metals, elements necessary for 
telecommunications, military technologies, health-care 
technologies, and conventional and renewable energy 
technologies, is the most prominent example. In March 2012, the 
United States joined with Japan and the European Union to file 
a complaint with the World Trade Organization over China's 
policy of restricting exports of these important mineral 
resources, resources that we have in economic quantities in our 
own country.
    H.R. 761 deliberately contains a broad definition of 
``strategic and critical minerals'' to allow for the greatest 
flexibility over time.
    In 2006, prior to the world-wide economic downturn, there 
was great concern over the future availability of platinum 
group metals and copper. At the time, projections in demand for 
copper indicated that by 2016 30 large-scale copper deposits 
would have to come on line to meet world-wide demand; at the 
time there were not enough copper deposits in the permitting 
pipeline to make up for the projected demand curve.
    The economic downturn in 2008 and the delayed economic 
recovery have pushed the 2016 copper supply-demand threshold 
further into the future.
    Even sand and gravel and other construction mineral 
materials can be in short supply or not available, as the 
United States Geological Survey discovered in 2009 during the 
``Great California Shakeout,'' the first simulated major 
earthquake emergency response exercise conducted in Southern 
California. In its assessment of the scope of damage and the 
materials needed for reconstruction, the agency discovered 
there were not enough sand and gravel and other construction 
materials available in the region to meet the affected area's 
reconstruction needs.
    In the current mineral commodity market environment, most 
people are focused on rare earths and China's restriction on 
the exports of those metals. Consequently, they want to 
restrict the definition of ``strategic and critical minerals'' 
to only include rare earths and a small number of other 
commodities. However, any mineral commodity can be in short 
supply at any given time, and the United States needs to have 
the flexibility to allow for access to and development of those 
commodities that occur in economic quantities in this country.
    Finally, the President has recognized the problems 
associated with long permitting time-frames for infrastructure 
and renewable energy projects and has issued guidance documents 
requiring coordination and timely processing of permits to be 
issued by federal agencies with regulatory responsibilities for 
the project proponents to be able to begin construction in a 
timely manner. This legislation builds on this precedent set by 
the Administration by applying the principles outlined in the 
guidance documents to mineral exploration and development 
projects.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 761 was introduced on February 15, 2013, by 
Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV). The bill was referred to the 
Committee on Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the 
Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. In addition, the 
bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. On March 
21, 2013, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held 
a hearing on the bill. On May 15, 2013, the Full Natural 
Resources Committee met to consider the bill. The Subcommittee 
on Energy and Mineral Resources was discharged by unanimous 
consent. Congressman Amodei offered an amendment designated #1 
to the bill; the amendment was adopted by voice vote. 
Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) offered an amendment designated 
.001 to the bill; the amendment was not adopted by a roll call 
vote of 16 to 18, as follows:
<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>

Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) offered an amendment designated 
.002 to the bill; the amendment was not adopted by a roll call 
vote of 18 to 23, as follows:
<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>

No further amendments were offered and the bill, as amended, 
was then adopted and ordered favorably reported to the House of 
Representatives by a bipartisan roll call vote of 24 to 17, as 
follows:
<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>

            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(2)(B) 
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Under clause 3(c)(3) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has 
received the following cost estimate for this bill from the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

H.R. 761--National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 
        2013

    CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 761 would have no 
significant impact on the federal budget. Enacting the bill 
could reduce mandatory payments for attorneys' fees over the 
2014-2023 period; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. 
However, CBO estimates that any such effects would be minimal. 
Enacting the bill would not affect revenues.
    The bill would require the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 
and the Forest Service to take certain actions aimed at 
streamlining the process for obtaining permits to extract 
minerals from federal lands. Based on information from the 
affected agencies, CBO estimates that the streamlining 
provisions would have no significant budgetary effect because 
those agencies are performing most of those activities under 
current law. The bill also would direct the agencies to 
expedite the publishing of notices in the Federal Register 
related to mineral exploration and mining projects. Based on 
information provided by BLM, CBO estimates that implementing 
that provision would cost less than $300,000 a year, assuming 
availability of appropriated funds. Those funds would be used 
to hire additional employees to allow the affected agencies to 
meet the timelines established in the bill.
    Finally, H.R. 761 would exempt lawsuits that affect mineral 
exploration or mining permits on federal lands from the Equal 
Access to Justice Act. That act requires the U.S. Treasury to 
pay the attorneys' fees for certain plaintiffs who prevail in 
court proceedings against the federal government. Over the 
2003-2012 period, total payments made on behalf of BLM and the 
Forest Service from the Judgment Fund of the U.S. Treasury to 
cover attorneys' fees under that act averaged about $1 million 
a year. Based on information from the Government Accountability 
Office, the Treasury Department, and the affected land 
management agencies, CBO estimates that only a small portion of 
that amount was paid to plaintiffs who prevailed in cases that 
affected mineral exploration or mining permits. We estimate 
that enacting H.R. 761 would reduce direct spending by less 
than $50,000 a year over the 2014-2023 period.
    H.R. 761 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jeff LaFave. The 
estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.
    2. Section 308(a) of Congressional Budget Act. As required 
by clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget 
Act of 1974, this bill does not contain any new budget 
authority, spending authority, credit authority, or an increase 
or decrease in revenues or tax expenditures. CBO estimates that 
implementing H.R. 761 would have no significant impact on the 
federal budget.
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill, as ordered reported, is 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.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                       COMPLIANCE WITH H. RES. 5

    Directed Rule Making. The Chairman does not believe that 
this bill directs any executive branch official to conduct any 
specific rule-making proceedings.
    Duplication of Existing Programs. This bill does not 
establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government 
known to be duplicative of another program. Such program was 
not included in any report from the Government Accountability 
Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139 
or identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Public Law 95-220, as amended by Public Law 
98-169) as relating to other programs.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.

                            LETTER EXCHANGES

                        Committee on the Judiciary,
                                  House of Representatives,
                                     Washington, DC, June 28, 2013.
Hon. Doc Hastings,
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources,
Washington, DC.
    Dear Chairman Hastings, I am writing with respect to H.R. 
761, the ``National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production 
Act of 2013,'' which the Committee on Natural Resources 
reported favorably. As a result of your having consulted with 
us on provisions in H.R. 761 that fall within the rule X 
jurisdiction of the Committee on the Judiciary, I agree to 
discharge our Committee from further consideration of this bill 
so that it may proceed expeditiously to the House floor for 
consideration.
    The Judiciary Committee takes this action with our mutual 
understanding that by foregoing consideration of H.R. 761 at 
this time, we do not waive any jurisdiction over subject matter 
contained in this or similar legislation, and that our 
Committee will be appropriately consulted and involved as the 
bill or similar legislation moves forward so that we may 
address any remaining issues in our jurisdiction. Our Committee 
also reserves the right to seek appointment of an appropriate 
number of conferees to any House-Senate conference involving 
this or similar legislation, and asks that you support any such 
request.
    I would appreciate a response to this letter confirming 
this understanding with respect to H.R. 761, and would ask that 
a copy of our exchange of letters on this matter be included in 
the Congressional Record during Floor consideration of H.R. 
761.
            Sincerely,
                                             Bob Goodlatte,
                                                          Chairman.
                                ------                                

                    Committee on Natural Resources,
                                  House of Representatives,
                                      Washington, DC, July 3, 2013.
Hon. Bob Goodlatte,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary,
Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: Thank you for your letter regarding H.R. 
761, the ``National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production 
Act of 2013.'' As you know, the Committee on Natural Resources 
ordered reported the bill, as amended, on May 15, 2013. I 
appreciate your support in bringing this legislation before the 
House of Representatives, and accordingly, understand that the 
Committee on the Judiciary will forego action on the bill.
    The Committee on Natural Resources concurs with the mutual 
understanding that by foregoing consideration of H.R. 761 at 
this time, the Committee on the Judiciary does not waive any 
jurisdiction over the subject matter contained in this or 
similar legislation. In addition, should a conference on the 
bill be necessary, I would support your request to have the 
Committee on the Judiciary represented on the conference 
committee. Finally, I would be pleased to include your letter 
and this response in the bill report filed by the Committee on 
Natural Resources, as well as in the Congressional Record 
during floor consideration, to memorialize our understanding.
    Thank you for your cooperation.
            Sincerely,
                                              Doc Hastings,
                                                          Chairman.

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    We oppose H.R. 761 because despite its title, this 
legislation has absolutely nothing to do with the development 
of rare earths and other strategic minerals. This Republican 
bill hands yet another giveaway to the mining industry by 
dramatically reshaping how we permit virtually all mining on 
public lands and by gutting key protections for local 
communities, our water and our environment.
    This bill is so broadly drafted that it would reduce or 
eliminate proper review under the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) for nearly all types of mines on public lands. It 
would short-circuit proper review of mines for minerals such as 
gold, silver, copper and uranium; mines for minerals that are 
not remotely critical and strategic, such as sand or gravel; 
even coal mines on public lands could potentially enjoy the 
giveaways in this bill.
    The Interior Department has stated that ``This legislation 
would remove many of the environmental safeguards for almost 
all types of hardrock mines on public lands, bypass evaluation 
of potential impacts under NEPA, and limit public involvement 
in agency decision-making.''
    This legislation is so controversial the Senate refused to 
consider it last Congress. H.R. 761 as reported out of the 
Committee is virtually unchanged from the last Congress and 
will likely suffer the same fate.
    The Majority's claims with respect to mining permit delays 
are unfounded. As of last year, the average time it takes to 
approve a plan of operations for a hardrock mine has actually 
decreased under the Obama Administration compared to the Bush 
Administration. Despite industry claims, according to the 
Interior Department ``it takes on average four years to approve 
a mining plan of operations for a large mine (more than 1,000 
acres) on public lands.'' As of last year, the Obama 
Administration had approved 82 percent of hardrock mines within 
three years. This bill is about preventing proper environmental 
review for the small number of mines that are potentially 
significantly damaging to public health or our water or 
environment and where additional review is therefore warranted.
    H.R. 761 also threatens hunting, fishing, grazing and 
conservation by elevating mining above all other uses of our 
public lands. Indeed, the Interior Department has testified 
before the Committee that ``H.R. 761 includes numerous 
provisions that circumvent sound Federal decision-making and 
existing law calling for the multiple uses of public lands.''
    The Majority rejected an amendment offered by Energy and 
Mineral Resources Subcommittee Ranking Member Holt (D-NJ) that 
would have narrowed the scope of the bill to only apply to 
minerals that are, in fact, critical and strategic. An 
amendment from Ranking Member Holt to update our antiquated 
mining law to require gold, silver, and uranium mines to pay a 
royalty and use that revenue to clean up abandoned mines in the 
West was also voted down by the Majority.
    Democrats believe that we should finally update the Mining 
Law of 1872 to ensure that mining companies are not able to 
extract valuable minerals that belong to the American people 
for free. Democrats also believe that we should update this law 
to assist local communities in Western states with the cleanup 
and remediation of the hundreds of thousands of toxic abandoned 
mines in these states. Unfortunately, this Republican 
legislation does nothing to close these egregious loopholes 
that large, multinational mining companies enjoy when mining on 
our public lands and instead provides even more giveaways and 
handouts to this industry.

                                   Edward J. Markey,
                                           Ranking Democratic Member, 
                                               Natural Resources 
                                               Committee.
                                    Rush D. Holt,
                                           Ranking Member, Subcommittee 
                                               on Energy & Mineral 
                                               Resources.