Legislative and Regulatory Update
March 2022 by Scott Harn
• Another setback for Twin Metals
On January 26, 2022, the Biden Administration canceled the leases for the proposed Twin Metals copper and nickel mine in Minnesota.
Back in 2020, while President Biden was campaigning for office, he told miners he would support increasing American mining and production of metals to continue a push toward electric vehicles, solar and wind power.
The decision directly contradicts the report his own administration issued in July 2021, which declared that America is critically short on supplies of nickel, copper, lithium, cobalt and rare-earth elements necessary for advanced vehicle batteries and other renewable technologies.
Twin Metals had their leases canceled by the Obama Administration, restored by President Trump, and now they’ve been canceled again.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland stated, “We found the leases were improperly renewed in violation of applicable statutes and regulations, and we are taking action to cancel them.”
She did not explain what was “improper” about the leases or what “statutes and regulations” were violated.
We anticipate the leases may again be restored by Congress if there is a change of the party in control following the November 2022 mid-term elections.
• US Supreme Court to review case that challenges WOTUS
The US Supreme Court announced they will review a case that challenges the EPA’s Clean Water Act, even after the Biden Administration announced they are considering a new rule to redefine what qualifies as “Waters of the United States,” otherwise known as WOTUS.
The EPA under President Obama expanded the definition of WOTUS beyond navigable waters to include stock ponds, ditches and temporary streams, but this was reversed by the Trump Administration.
In Sackett v. EPA, the Sackett’s are fighting for the right to build on their land in Idaho without having to obtain an expensive federal permit.
According to Damien Schiff, senior attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, “The Sacketts’ ordeal is emblematic of all that has gone wrong with the implementation of the Clean Water Act.”
The US Supreme Court already reviewed their case once and remanded it to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. But the 9th Circuit then affirmed their decision, stating that the federal government has permitting authority even though the Sackett’s are not attempting to alter a permanent waterway.
• ESA changes for the better
Is there any hope for a solution? Yes, there is, and we’ve been working with Public Lands for the People, the Minerals and Mining Advisory Council, attorney James Buchal and others on that solution.
Bottom line for you fellow miners: file your claims now in these areas or risk being forever locked out!
To reach this goal, our federal government would need to designate another 45.7 million acres as protected lands every year.
There are some miners who are under the impression that an organized Mining District will immediately get the regulatory agencies off their backs so they can start digging or dredging again.
• BLM claim fees rise
• Critical minerals bill
• Sage-grouse habitat
Public Lands for the People is working on a Miner's Bill of Rights with the support of several members of Congress.
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