Livestreams Next Week: Hearings on Oak Flat, Puerto Rico Political Status, and Orphaned Wells Cleanup

Washington, D.C. – The Natural Resources Committee is holding three livestreamed hearings next week.

Tuesday, April 13

The Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States (SCIP), led by Chair Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) will host a legislative hearing on Chair Raúl M. Grijalva’s Save Oak Flat Act bill to permanently protect the Oak Flat area of Tonto National Forest from destructive mining proposals.

  • H.R. 1884 (Rep. Grijalva), To repeal section 3003 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.

Oak Flat, or Chi’chil Bildagoteel, is of significant cultural importance and considered sacred by many tribal communities in Arizona, including the San Carlos Apache Tribe, which has resisted a years-long effort by Resolution Copper – owned by international mining conglomerates BHP and Rio Tinto – to mine the region. 

The issue was recently featured on The Today Show and has received intensive news coverage in recent weeks. On March 1, the Biden administration withdrew an environmental impact statement, published in the waning hours of the Trump administration, that would have finalized a land swap between Tonto National Forest and Resolution Copper, after which the mine would have moved forward.

The San Carlos Apache and many other tribes across the country strongly support Grijalva’s bill.

Witnesses include:

  • The Honorable Shan Lewis, President, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona
  • The Honorable Fawn Sharp, President, National Congress of American Indians
  • Dr. James Wells, PhD, Chief Operating Officer, L. Everett & Associates
  • Minority witness to be announced

When: 1:00 p.m. Eastern time

Watch Livehttps://bit.ly/31X4pdr (Facebook) or https://youtu.be/07lQnARcxZU (YouTube) 

Wednesday, April 14 

The full Committee, led by Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), will hold a legislative hearing on the following bills to resolve Puerto Rico’s political status, an issue on which Grijalva said the Puerto Rican people deserve “clarity and closure:”

  • H.R. 1522 (Rep. Darren Soto), To provide for the admission of the State of Puerto Rico into the Union. Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act.
  • H.R. 2070 (Rep. Nydia Velázquez), To recognize the right of the People of Puerto Rico to call a status convention through which the people would exercise their natural right to self-determination, and to establish a mechanism for congressional consideration of such decision, and for other purposes. Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2021.

“Legislative approaches that have gathered popular support will receive a fair hearing and due consideration in this Committee, and I will not put my thumb on the scale,” Grijalva said last week. “I look forward to hearing about both bills to come to an equitable, and hopefully final, federal agreement on a process to resolve the island’s ultimate political status.”

Grijalva traveled twice to Puerto Rico in the previous Congress to survey damage from Hurricane Maria, meet with elected leaders and clean energy advocates, and hold a public forum on Puerto Rico’s political and economic future. He has garnered respect from multiple political factions on the island, and on the mainland, for dealing fairly with all sides of the status dispute.

On December 10, 2020, he wrote to then-President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris urging the rapid implementation of the Biden-Harris Plan for Recovery, Renewal and Respect for Puerto Rico and encouraging the incoming administration to create a federal working group to offer analysis and expertise to the White House and congressional lawmakers on Puerto Rico financial recovery and reconstruction as soon as possible. The letter is available online at https://bit.ly/3n7Dtke.

Witnesses include:

H.R. 1522 (Rep. Soto), “Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act” 

  • The Hon. Pedro R. Pierluisi, Governor of Puerto Rico
  • Ms. Johanne Vélez-García, Vice President, Puerto Rico Democratic Party
  • Mr. José Fuentes, Chair, Puerto Rico Statehood Council
  • Dr. Christina D. Ponsa-Kraus, Professor of Law, Columbia Law School

 H.R. 2070 (Rep. Velázquez), “Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2021”

  • The Hon. Rafael Hernández, Speaker, Puerto Rico House of Representatives
  • The Hon. María de Lourdes Santiago, Vice President, Puerto Rican Independence Party
  • The Hon. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, Former Governor, Popular Democratic Party  
  • The Hon. Manuel Natal, President, Citizens Victory Movement

When: 1:00 p.m. Eastern time

Watch Livehttps://bit.ly/39TFDiF (Facebook) or https://youtu.be/LMDSrQtjbew (YouTube) 

Thursday, April 15 

The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources (EMR), led by Chair Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), will host a hearing on Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández’s legislation that creates a comprehensive national orphaned well-plugging strategy to create jobs and generate long-term environmental benefits:

  • Bill: HR. ____, Orphaned Well Cleanup and Jobs Act (Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández)

Last year House Natural Resources Committee Democrats held a virtual forum on the importance of Reclaiming Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells. The issue has gathered attention from states and communities worried about rising cleanup costs and ongoing environmental damage from tens of thousands of orphaned oil and gas wells across the country. According to various estimates, cleaning up the thousands of orphaned wells across the country could cost billions of dollars, but federal agencies and states responsible for plugging and reclaiming orphaned wells often have limited funding to clean up these sites. In California, for example, cleanup could cost upwards of $500 million, but the state only holds $79 million in company bonds to assist with the work. Last week, President Biden’s American Jobs Plan called for investing billions of dollars into cleaning up and plugging orphaned wells across the country. 

Witnesses include:

  • Ms. Lori Wrotenbery, Executive Director, Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission 
  • Dr. Mary Kang, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, McGill University 
  • Mr. Don Schreiber, Rancher, Rio Arriba County, NM 
  • Mr. Ted Boettner, Senior Researcher, Ohio River Valley Institute

When: 2:00 p.m. Eastern time

Watch Livehttps://bit.ly/39VoJQW (Facebook) or https://youtu.be/V9-1JtzQhcU (YouTube)

Press Contact

Media Contact: Monica Sanchez

(202) 225-6065