US mining and voters in sync re job creation, economy

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The National Mining Association asserted Wednesday that a Morning Consult national poll commissioned by the National Mining Association shows voters and the US mining industry share the same top priority — job creation and a strong economy.

“Fortunately, there are actions the Trump Administration and the New Congress can take on day one to save jobs in our industry and address voter concerns,” NMA CEO Hal Quinn declared in a Jan. 18, 2017, news release.

The polling of 1,991 registered US voters was conducted during January 12-13 of this year. Of those surveyed 33% said they see job creation and the economy as the top priority for the incoming Trump Administration and the New Congress. Other priorities identified by voters were healthcare (26%), national security (24%), infrastructure (6%) and energy policy (4%).

“Over the last several years, the mining industry has been beleaguered by a regulatory onslaught and bureaucratic labyrinth that has cost jobs throughout the supply chain that rely on mining,” Quinn said. “Fortunately many of these regulatory and administrative hurdles can be addressed with actions by the new administration and Congress, backed by strong public support, to save current jobs that are at risk and create the potential for new jobs by clearing obstacles to future employment.”

Among the hurdles cited by NMA are the EPA proposal to add new hardrock mining financial assurance requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The proposed new requirements, which were published in the Federal Register on January 11, 2017, “…puts much of the hardrock mining industry at risk by placing on an already comprehensively regulated industry an exorbitant and unnecessary financial burden that EPA estimates at $7.1 billion,” the NMA observed. “This sum is in addition to billions of dollars of financial obligations already committed through existing state and federal programs.”

“The (Trump) administration should take a fresh look at this rule with an eye towards eliminating obvious duplication and minimizing excessive burdens on the industry,” the association recommended.

In the news release, the NMA urged Congress to enact the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2017, which has been introduced by Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei, both Nevada Republicans. Previous versions of the legislation–aimed at streamlining the mining permitting process to boost the economy and job creation–have won the approval of the U.S. House, but died in the U.S. Senate.

“The U.S. is blessed with abundant mineral wealth essential for our basic infrastructure needs, our national defense systems and the consumer products we use every day,” said Quinn in a news release issued on January 17th.

The legislation addressed what NMA called a “painfully slow mine permitting process that can take seven to 10 years, putting into place a path for efficient, timely and thorough permit reviews and incorporating best practices for coordination between state and federal agencies.”

“If adopted, this legislation will support our ability to fully utilize abundant domestic mineral resources that are essential for basic infrastructure needs, national defense systems and consumer products.”

NMA Coal Sector Concerns

The NMA also urged the Trump Administration to rescind EPA’s Clean Power Plan—stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court and now under review by the D.C. Court of Appeals—which aims to close 53,000 megawatts of coal power capacity. “By rescinding the CPP, the administration can save 27,700 high-wage coal mining jobs, along with another 99,700 in the coal supply chain, including railroad workers, machinists, mechanics, truckers and other occupations that depend on coal mining,” the association suggested.

NMA Vice President-External Communications Luke Popovich observed, “Quicker yet would be a decision by the White House to simply ignore the Obama Administration’s moratorium on federal court leases…”

The new Congress and the Trump Administration could act to pass and sign into effect “a Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval nullifying the Interior Department’s reckless stream rule,” the NMA asserted. “A technical analysis of the impact of the proposed rule shows that at least a third of coal-related jobs are now at risk owing to the massive volumes of coal that would be uneconomic to mine.”

Popovich contends that the “job-killing regulations” advocated by environmental organizations and “enthusiastically accepted by a grateful [Obama] Administration,” helped sweep President-Elect Donald Trump into the White House.

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