April 23, 2021

Crapo, Risch Lead Effort to Prioritize Energy & Domestic Security, Strengthen U.S. Critical Mineral Supply Chain

Washington, D.C.--The current federal permitting process has been an impediment to mineral production and the mineral security of the United States.  Permitting times in the U.S. rank among some of the longest in the world and are a threat to our national security and economy.  U.S. Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (both R-Idaho) today joined Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to introduce legislation to improve the quality and timeliness of federal permitting and review processes with respect to critical mineral production on federal land.

“Idaho has significant deposits of rare earth elements and has a critical role to play in the domestic supply of rare earth minerals,” said Crapo.  “Decreased reliance on foreign minerals by reducing permitting delays would increase U.S. production of these minerals domestically and meet long-term economic and national security demands.”

“In Idaho, we have the nation’s only significant domestic deposit of cobalt, a mineral that’s used to produce everything from jet engines to cell phones.  Yet instead of mining and processing cobalt in the U.S., we import our supply from China.  The same is true for most critical minerals,” said Risch. “We must prioritize our energy and domestic security and pass this crucial reform.”

“America’s reliance on foreign countries for the production and recycling of our critical minerals is a vulnerability to our national security, a disadvantage to our economy, and a hindrance to our global competitiveness.  Unfortunately, the current Federal permitting and review process is painfully inefficient—a major deterrent for producers, refiners, and recyclers who desire to supply the minerals that make our modern life possible,” said Murkowski.  “By improving the permitting processes we have in place, we are creating greater opportunity for America to rebuild a robust domestic critical minerals supply chain.”

Additional co-sponsors of the legislation include U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia.), Steve Daines (R-Montana), and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma).

Bill Highlights:  

The legislation improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal permitting and review process by requiring federal agencies to:

  • Establish clear timelines for decisions regarding applications, operating plans, leases, licenses, permits, and other use authorizations for critical mineral-related activities on federal land.
  • Create clear, quantifiable permitting performance goals and to track progress toward those goals.
  • Engage in early collaboration with agencies, stakeholders, projects sponsors, and to consult with state, local, and tribal governments to resolve concerns.
  • Provide clear and logical ways to make the process more cost-effective and timely.