E&E News: Murkowski 'not rushing' on reform hearing

 Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski signaled yesterday she's not in a hurry to hold a hearing on a broad hardrock mining reform proposal that her Democratic colleagues are pressing.

"I'm not rushing to it right now," the Alaska Republican told E&E News yesterday of the hearing request made by nine of her Democratic colleagues last week on the reform bill, S. 1386 (Greenwire, June 12).

The House Natural Resources Committee has already held a hearing on reforming the 1872 General Mining Act, a longtime priority for many Democrats and environmentalists (E&E Daily, May 10).

But Murkowski said she'll have to weigh the legislative prospects for the push before devoting her panel's time to a hearing.

"It is something that brings its own level of controversy with it," she said. "We'll take a look at it. I look at all member requests for opportunities for a hearing, and we try to make smart decisions about where there's a level of interest sufficient to advance some legislation."

Of the nine Democrats who requested the hearing, only Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Ron Wyden of Oregon are members of the Energy Committee. Energy ranking member Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) applauded the bill at the time of its introduction, but is not listed as a co-sponsor.

Murkowski told E&E News last month she would not support changes to the law that could hinder mineral development in Alaska.

"I don't want to put anything in place that is going to put the brakes on our ability to access our mineral potential, particularly with this focus that I have on critical minerals," she said.

By:  Geof Koss
Source: E&E News