Democrats close in on drilling, mining bans for Biden’s $3.5T infrastructure scheme

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy on 9/3/2021

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) --Legislation to block oil drilling in most U.S. waters and Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge edged closer to passage Thursday, as the House Natural Resources Committee rejected more than a dozen changes sought by Republicans.

The bill would slap new fees on oil and mining companies and effectively block the proposed Resolution Copper mine in Arizona while doling tens of billions of dollars to climate resilience, drought relief, conservation and other programs.

The committee is expected to approve the bill next week after spending roughly nine hours considering the measure Thursday. Congressional Democrats then would fold the measure into the broader $3.5 trillion tax-and-spending legislation they are developing to expand the government’s role in health care, combat climate change and fulfill much of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

On Thursday, panel Democrats united in party-line votes to reject Republican-backed amendments to eliminate proposed fees and restrictions on oil operations, among other changes. More amendment votes are expected when the committee resumes considering the bill on Sept. 9.

The legislation would bar the sale of new oil and gas leases in Pacific and Atlantic waters as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico. It also would abolish a four-year-old requirement that the government sell drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain while voiding nine leases issued in that northeast Alaska region earlier this year.

Other provisions would rule out domestic uranium production near the Grand Canyon, create annual fees of up to $10,000 per mile on offshore pipelines and effectively block the Resolution Copper Co. mining project proposed by Rio Tinto Plc and BHP Group Plc in Arizona.

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