April 25, 2023

Cortez Masto & Risch Introduce Legislation to Protect Critical Mineral Production in the West

Bipartisan Bill Would Stop Misguided Rosemont Decision From Blocking Essential Mining Projects in Nevada

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) introduced the Mining Regulatory Clarity Act to allow critical mineral production to continue in the West. This legislation would address the recent Rosemont judicial decision, which could upend responsible mining projects by prohibiting mining-support activities, like waste or processing, on lands that do not contain economically valuable minerals. The decision is a significant departure from long-held mining practices and, without congressional action, could threaten critical mineral projects across the West. This legislation is cosponsored by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).

“Nevada’s critical minerals are the key to our clean energy future, and we must make sure to support responsible mining and the tens of thousands of good-paying jobs it provides in our state,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This misguided decision would force all mining activities, even the storage of waste, to happen on mineral-rich land, which could impede critical mineral production all across the country. This bipartisan legislation will undo the damage of this decision, allow mining operations to continue under long-standing and historic application of the law, and protect the good-paying jobs this industry supports in our state.” 

“We rely on mineral resources every day for everything from energy to technology to national defense. Now more than ever, it is critical we are doing all we can to increase domestic production in states like Idaho, where we have rich mineral resources,” said Senator Risch. “The Mining Regulatory Clarity Act will ensure mining projects in Idaho and across the West can continue to operate efficiently and responsibility.”

“Without strong leadership, the nation’s alarming mineral import dependence is poised to go from bad to worse as demand for minerals essential to our manufacturing and energy futures as well as our national security skyrocket,” said National Mining Association President and CEO Rich Nolan. “The bipartisan Mining Regulatory Clarity Act is critically important to ensuring the U.S. can use our vast domestic resources to build the essential mineral supply chains we know we must have. This legislation codifies more than a century of Supreme Court decisions on the Mining Law, ensuring the fundamental ability to conduct responsible mining activities on federal lands. Regulatory certainty, or the lack thereof, will either underpin or undermine efforts to meet the extraordinary mineral demand now at our doorstep.”

“The Nevada Mining Association welcomes the introduction of this important bipartisan legislation and thanks Senator Cortez Masto for her steadfast support of Nevada’s mining industry. Through the responsible extraction of metals and minerals, Nevada’s mining industry is essential to the nation’s future in clean energy production and transmission. This legislation will ensure that the industry will continue to provide the foundational elements required for a strong and secure supply chain,” said Dana Bennett, Interim President of Nevada Mining Association.

“Mining is one of the pillars of Nevada's economy, and ensuring clarity around mining claims is essential to our state's economic development and our country's green energy future,” said Rob Benner, Secretary-Treasurer of the Northern Nevada Central Labor Council. “We thank Senator Cortez Masto for bringing forward the Mining Regulatory Clarity Act. Clarifying this regulation will help ensure and create thousands of good union jobs for Nevadans.”

"Nevada Vanadium is proud to be developing one of the first Critical Minerals mines in Nevada and is extremely grateful for the hard work and support from Senator Cortez Masto for Nevada’s Clean Energy future with the sponsorship of the Mining Regulatory Clarity Act,” said Ron Espell President and CEO of Nevada Vanadium. “The Gibellini Vanadium Mine would produce over 50% of the current US demand for Vanadium which is currently produced mainly in China, Russia and South Africa. Vanadium is the key raw material in the production of Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries that provide safe grid scale storage of renewable energy.”

“Developing a robust domestic supply chain for critical minerals is essential to meet the growing consumer demand for electric vehicles,” said Albert Gore, Executive Director of the Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA). “The Mining Regulatory Clarity Act meets a pressing need in this effort by solidifying decades of precedent into law and allowing the industry to focus on investing in the clean energy economy and creating good-paying American jobs. ZETA applauds Senator Cortez Masto's and Senator Risch's leadership on this issue, and we look forward to working with them on this bipartisan legislation.”

“If the U.S. is to make the transition to 100% clean energy in a secure and sustainable way, we need to expand the domestic production of critical minerals. We can do so while protecting workers, communities, and our natural resources through sensible, transparent, and efficient regulations. Advanced Energy United is encouraged to see the “Mining Regulatory Clarity Act,” which should enhance business certainty around our mining rules and regulations,” said Harry Godfrey, Advanced Energy United Managing Director.

“BPC Action is pleased to see Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and James Risch (R-ID) working together to address barriers to increase domestic critical mineral supply. The bipartisan Mining Regulatory Clarity Act will help eliminate confusion over existing mining projects while increasing jobs, energy security, and the buildout of clean energy technologies,” said Michele Stockwell, Executive Director of Bipartisan Policy Center Action

The Mining Regulatory Clarity Act amends the 1993 Omnibus Reconciliation Act, pertaining to the Mining Law, to address the restrictive Rosemont Decision, which requires mining plans to include only public lands proved to contain economically-valuable minerals, even if those lands are planned to be used for mining-support activities such as waste or processing sites. This bill reaffirms long-held practice and previous legal interpretation that some public land use under a mining claim inherently accompanies exploration and extraction activities for other mining-support activities.

Senator Cortez Masto has led efforts in Congress to support Nevada’s mining industry, protecting tens of thousands of local jobs and paving the way for Nevada to power the clean energy economy. She has consistently blocked burdensome taxes on mining and wrote important provisions of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to bolster Nevada’s critical mineral supply chain and fund battery recycling programs in the state.