U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered the following remarks at a full committee hearing to examine and consider updates to the Mining Law of 1872.
The hearing featured testimony from Mr. Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited; Ms. Katie Sweeney, executive vice president and general counsel of the National Mining Association; Ms. Autumn Hanna, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense; Mr. Rich Haddock, general counsel at Barrick Gold Corporation; and Mr. David Brown, president and CEO of Wyo-Ben, Inc.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Thank you very much Mr. Chairman, and I agree with you that it’s important and timely to hold this hearing today.
“Like last week’s hearing, it comes at a critical moment.
“For the last nine months, President Biden has been pushing an agenda that would dramatically increase our nation’s demand for minerals.
“President Biden has pledged to end new sales of cars and pickup trucks that run on gas or diesel.
“The president – instead – wants Americans to drive electric vehicles.
“Earlier this year, Mark Mills, testified before this committee that ‘Providing the refined minerals needed to fabricate a single [electric vehicle] battery requires the mining, moving, and processing of more than 500,000 pounds of materials.’
“He went on to say: ‘That’s 20 times more than the 25,000 pounds of petroleum that an internal combustion engine uses over the life of a car.’
“This chart from the International Energy Agency makes a similar point.
“At the same time President Biden wants to shut down America’s natural gas and coal-fired power plants, he wants to do more along these lines.
“The president – instead – doesn’t want coal, doesn’t want natural gas, he wants utilities to generate electricity from wind turbines and solar panels.
“Mark Mills – again went on, before this committee and explained, ‘Compared with a natural gas power plant, [both wind turbines and solar panels] require at least 10 times as many total tons mined, moved, and converted into machines to deliver the same quantity of energy.’
“A chart from the International Energy Agency makes a similar point.
“In light of these goals, you would think President Biden and Democrats in Congress would want to make it easier for us to mine here in the United States for these minerals that are necessary to do the sorts of things the Biden administration’s agenda is calling for.
“Instead, the president and House Democrats want to make it more difficult to get to these minerals we need.
“And they seek to eliminate all mining on federal lands.
“Last month, House Democrats advanced partisan budget legislation –their reckless tax and spending spree – that would impose punishing royalties on existing and new mines on federal land.
“House Democrats also plan to raise fees and impose a tax on mining firms. The fees are based on the amount of dirt they moved.
“You can’t make this stuff up.
“House Democrats are planning to tax dirt.
“House Democrats also want to repeal the late Senator McCain’s bipartisan legislation to provide access to one of the largest copper deposits in North America.
“This project would alone create 3,700 jobs in Arizona.
“Their proposal will devastate communities and workers in Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, and throughout the West.
“The House Democrats’ legislation will also be a giant gift for our adversaries overseas, like China and Russia.
“According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the United States is already very heavily dependent on China and Russia for dozens of minerals.
“Many of these minerals are essential to our national defense and our economic security.
“The last thing that President Biden and House Democrats should be doing is increasing our dependence on China and Russia, but that’s exactly what they are doing.
“I am open to considering changes to the mining law of 1872.
“Still, we must protect American workers, mining communities in the West, and our nation’s competitiveness.
“We also need to recognize that the mining law of 1872 covers dozens of different minerals.
“They each have their own market, which may be dominated by foreign, by state-controlled corporations, and countries seeking to undercut U.S. mining firms.
“For that reason, a one-size-fits-all approach is not going to work for me.
“We also must not limit our vision to the 1872 Mining Act.
“For example, Congress needs to enact meaningful permitting reform with fixed deadlines for federal agency action.
“Finally, I can only support changes if Congress proceeds through regular order and, therefore, on a broad bipartisan basis.
“These changes are too consequential for Congress to pursue them through the partisan budget process.
“Thank you Mr. Chairman.”