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ICYMI: A Secure Future Requires American Resources
By House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) | The Washington Times

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 27, 2022 -

The past few years have brought a new meaning to the term “unprecedented.” One global crisis after another has made it hard to contextualize the truly historic times we’ve been living through. Take this past summer as an example. Gas prices hit levels never seen before in history, yet we ran out of ways to describe it. "Record-breaking," "crippling," "exorbitant" and, yes, "unprecedented," this is the state of American energy under the Biden administration.

While this administration continues its war on our domestic industries, I’ve been working with my Republican colleagues in Congress to put together robust, forward-thinking proposals that incentivize not punish access to our rich natural resources in reliable, sustainable ways.

Enter my latest legislation: the Securing America’s Mineral Supply Chains Act and the Transparency and Production (TAP) of American Energy Act. These two bills bolster American energy, secure domestic mineral supply chains, streamline arcane permitting processes, and more, all of which is critically needed to move our infrastructure into the 21st Century.

Let’s start with the need to jumpstart American energy production. By eliminating bureaucratic hurdles, empowering the energy sector to innovate, opening access to federal lands and waters for responsible energy development, and implementing a true all-of-the-above energy approach, the U.S. can lead the rest of the world by example.

What does that look like in practice? It means preventing any president from imposing bans on federal energy leasing and mineral withdrawals without congressional approval. It means setting timelines for the five-year offshore leasing plan and planning and executing onshore and offshore lease sales, ensuring entire industries aren’t kept in limbo while agencies play politics. It means incentivizing and streamlining the development of new energy sources, like geothermal energy, because a rising tide lifts all boats. And, of course, it means cutting red tape. Without this critical step, conventional and renewable energy sources, from oil rigs to wind turbines, will remain inoperable while D.C. bureaucrats drag their feet and withhold permits.

I’ve also introduced the TAP Act, which centers on shoring up our supply chains where they are at their weakest. Vladimir Putin’s rampage in Ukraine is the latest in a long line of events exposing the fissures in our supply chain, and we need to implement proactive solutions to prevent giving our global adversaries power to disrupt the American economy.

That starts with Russia and China, two of the biggest players when it comes to the worldwide supply of natural resources. It’s imperative that we equip the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) with all the necessary tools to monitor our adversaries’ mining and processing proceedings and report to Congress regularly.

At the same time, we also need to open access to the minerals we already have rich stores of right here in the United States. Hardrock mining projects across the country vital to supplying the U.S. and our allies with minerals like copper, cobalt, and lithium are repeatedly blocked, caught in the same bureaucratic red tape as so many energy projects. Hardrock minerals are irreplaceable components in computers, defense systems, renewable energy technologies, and dozens of applications. To meet skyrocketing demand at home and abroad, we must have efficient and predictable mine permitting processes, support our mining workforce, and promote innovation throughout the sector.

Bills like the two I’ve just introduced are the whole reason I’m in Congress: providing science-based, commonsense solutions to the most pressing issues facing Americans. As the lead Republican of the committee that has jurisdiction over our nation’s natural resources, I’ve unfortunately had a front seat to the Democrats’ sideshows this Congress, in which they’ve prioritized anything but responsible energy and mineral development.

I’ve often said the Biden administration and congressional Democrats need to lead, follow, or get out of the way. They’ve proven time and again that their leadership is more concerned with Twitter trends than the needs of the American people. It’s time for them to stop blocking sound policy and advance proposals that put America back where it belongs: as a global leader in energy and mineral security and environmental quality.

U.S. Representative Bruce Westerman, Arkansas Republican, is the Ranking Member of the Committee on Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over the Department of the Interior, federal lands and waters, indigenous issues, and more. He also serves on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. A Hot Springs native, he represents the state’s Fourth Congressional District and serves on the Minority Whip Team. An engineer and forester by trade, he was named Engineer of the Year by the Arkansas Society of Professional Engineers in 2013.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-225-2761

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