WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the new administration assumes power this week and the 115th Congress gets to work, new polling conducted for the National Mining Association (NMA) shows how swift action on mining industry concerns can also address voter concerns.
Thirty-three percent of voters see job creation/the economy as the top priority for the incoming administration and the new Congress. The category leads other priorities including Healthcare (26 percent), National Security (24 percent), Infrastructure (6 percent) and Energy Policy (4 percent).
“When they cast their ballots in November, Americans were clear about their priorities, job creation and the economy being chief among them,” said Hal Quinn, NMA president and CEO. “The mining industry shares these priorities. Fortunately, there are actions the Trump administration and new Congress can take on day one to save jobs in our industry and address voter concerns.”
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 that rely on mining. 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.
Interior Department’s Stream Rule. The new Congress and administration can act to pass and sign into effect a Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval nullifying the Interior Department’s reckless stream rule. The job killing rule provides no discernable environmental benefits while duplicating and interfering with extensive existing environmental protections at both the federal and state levels. 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.
Financial Assurance Rule. In December 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rushed to introduce new, duplicative financial assurance requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) that disregard serious flaws identified by industry experts and financial institutions. Despite significant concerns voiced by states, Congress and industry, as well as repeated requests to thoughtfully consider the economic ramifications of the rule, the “Financial Responsibility Requirements under CERCLA Section 108(b) for Classes of Facilities in the Hardrock Mining Industry” rule 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. This sum is in addition to billions of dollars of financial obligations already committed through existing state and federal programs. The administration should take a fresh look at this rule with an eye towards eliminating obvious duplication and minimizing excessive burdens on the industry.
Clean Power Plan. EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) – currently stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court and under review by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals – is forecasted to close 53,000 megawatts of coal power capacity according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Without the CPP, coal production would increase 20 percent by 2030. EIA’s 2017 Annual Energy Outlook confirms that, without the CPP, coal electricity generation would be 49 percent higher in 2040 and annual coal production would climb and stabilize at 861 million tons. With the CPP in place, coal electricity generation plunges and, along with it, coal production falls by 242 million tons—a drop of 28 percent. 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.
Minerals Legislation. Encouragingly, legislation was introduced last week in the House and Senate showing the new Congress’ commitment to job creation and economic growth. The legislation addresses the current, 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.
These are among the highest priority actions the new administration and new Congress can take to help address voters’ top concerns, saving and creating jobs, while supporting the U.S. economy.
The polling, conducted by Morning Consult January 12-13, 2017, included 1,991 registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2 percent.