House committee approves water, wildlife, mineral bills

By Garrett Downs | 06/13/2024 06:49 AM EDT

One measure would ease permitting and increase government support for copper mining.

Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.).

Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.) was the only Democrat to vote for legislation Wednesday that would add copper to the U.S. Geological Survey's critical mineral list. Francis Chung/POLITICO

The House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday approved legislation to shore up water resources in the West, make it easier to kill black vultures and elevate copper as a critical mineral.

Several bills passed easily by voice vote following an agreement between Chair Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and ranking member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.). But the copper and vulture bills proved contentious.

The “Black Vulture Relief Act,” H.R. 1437, from Reps. John Rose (R-Tenn.) and Darren Soto (D-Fla.), would allow ranchers to kill the birds without a permit if they pose a risk to livestock. Vultures are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) pointed to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s permitting system. The bill “tries to act as a solution to a problem that by all accounts livestock producers are not facing,” she said.