Washington D.C. Jan. 22, 2020 – Today, Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva sent a letter to Alexander H. Herrgott, the Executive Director of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, opposing the Council’s recent decision to expedite permit approvals for the hardrock mining industry. Chair Grijalva warns that this move demonstrates a disregard for public health and the environmental risks of these mining activities.
Despite evidence from the Environmental Protection Agency that the mining industry is the nation’s most polluting industry the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council voted to unilaterally add non-energy mining as a new covered infrastructure sector under Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41). This unilateral move vastly expands the jurisdiction of FAST-41 beyond what was established by Congress, and will allow hardrock mining permits to receive shortened environmental review periods. In the letter Grijalva explains:
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“Expediting permit approval for such projects is completely inappropriate. Mining projects were deliberately excluded by Congress as a FAST-41 qualifying sector because of the very significant and well-documented risks. The Council’s hasty decision to vote for such a significant policy change demonstrates a disregard for public health and a gross misunderstanding of the environmental risks of mining activities.” The Trump administration is actively working to weaken protections under numerous environmental laws and hand out favors to polluting industries. In addition to expediting mining reviews, the administration just proposed rule changes that would gut the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Trump administration’s actions are putting the interests of mining corporations over our nation’s public health and the concerns of local communities.
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