Natural Resources leaders spar over mine permitting plans

By Hannah Northey, Garrett Downs | 05/29/2024 04:15 PM EDT

Republicans on Wednesday announced an investigation into Bureau of Land Management proposals.

Reps. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.).

House Natural Resources Chair Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and senior Democrat Jared Huffman of California. Francis Chung/POLITICO

House Natural Resources Republicans are probing whether the Interior Department flouted federal law and sidestepped public scrutiny when proposing new metrics for assessing mine approvals. Democrats are already calling the investigation a sham.

Chair Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), chair of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, are questioning the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to publish the documents on its website and not the Federal Register.

BLM sought comment on the metrics — including ways to measure early coordination and the length of National Environmental Policy Act reviews — through March 13. The agency later extended the comment period through April.


But Republicans, in a letter Tuesday to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning, said officials should have published the metrics in the Federal Register, according to the Administrative Procedure Act, and that any comments should have been made public.