The U.S. is home to more than $6.2 trillion worth of minerals and metals. Yet delays in our current mine permitting process have put our nation at the bottom of the list of top mining countries, sending mining jobs overseas and forcing U.S. manufacturers to increasingly rely on mineral imports. This a policy issue that needs to be addressed.

Below, read more about the policies needed to reform our minerals mining permitting process.

Members of Congress have acknowledged the U.S.’ inefficient and duplicative permitting process by introducing legislation to reform these policies in the 115th Congress. The bill is called the “National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2017” and has been introduced in both the House and the Senate. The legislation includes provisions to modernize the minerals permitting process.

Both bills would ensure better access to domestic minerals and metals and secure the nation’s raw materials supply chain, which help to improve our energy infrastructure, efficiency and security in the years to come. However, to maximize minerals’ potential, the stronger and more detailed mine permitting provisions included in the House-passed legislation should be retained in the final energy package sent to the president to be signed into law. This would bolster America’s manufacturing renaissance, economic development and global competitiveness. It would also foster innovation, like recent advancements in the medical technology and auto industries. These reforms would also help create more jobs for hard-working Americans both in mining and the manufacturing industries dependent on minerals.

In the U.S., the process to obtain mine permits can take upwards of seven to 10 years. Compare that to countries like Canada and Australia, whose modern minerals-permitting policies enable them to complete the process in two to three years while following similarly stringent environmental standards.

As a result of the lengthy, costly and inefficient permitting process, businesses invest in countries with shorter permitting processes and U.S. manufacturers are forced to rely on mineral imports. In fact, our nation’s dependence on mineral imports—many of which we could mine here at home—has doubled over the past 20 years. Today, less than half of the minerals needs of U.S. manufacturing are met from domestically mined minerals.

Without compromising our rigorous environmental standards, the minerals legislation under consideration incorporates best practices for improving coordination among state and federal agencies, minimize duplication, set timeframes and bring much needed accountability to the process. Similar bills have received bipartisan support in Congress. In fact, the House of Representatives has passed nearly identical permitting reform legislation five times in the last three Congresses.

If we allow U.S. mining to perform to its full potential, our nation can enjoy enormous economic growth, job-creation opportunities and a domestic manufacturing revival.

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