Sending Office: Honorable Paul A. Gosar
Sent By:
Tanner.Hanson@mail.house.gov

        Request for Signature(s)

Protect Property Rights By Rejecting Political Mineral Withdrawal

Deadline: Noon, February 13
 

Current signers (19): Biggs, Cook, Cramer, Farenthold, Flores, Gosar, Hice, Hunter, Steve King, Lamborn, LaMalfa, Marshall, McClintock, Mooney, Pearce, Sessions, Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, Westerman, Don Young

Dear Colleague:

Please join us in sending a letter to the Appropriations Committees urging them not to include a political mineral withdrawal provision in any comprehensive funding bill or Omnibus. This provision would give a foothold for an unacceptable mineral contract
precedent while harming CEMEX.

Specifically, the draft version of the Senate’s Interior Appropriations bill includes Section 124(a) that purports to withdraw the mineral estate of two CEMEX contracts approved by the BLM. This misguided provision, included at the behest of a Democrat Senator,
represents another political attempt to short-circuit CEMEX’s Soledad operations and prevent the company from fulfilling two contracts issued by the BLM. A similar amendment put forth in the House was withdrawn due to overwhelming opposition and impending
failure.

The proposed mine is expected to produce 56 million tons of sand and gravel over 20 years on a 460 acre site. This is critically important, especially when considering initiatives to improve American infrastructure. The proposed mine is in the middle of
nowhere and there is another mine not far away.

CEMEX’s U.S. network includes 11 cement plants, 43 strategically located distribution terminals, 57 aggregate quarries and more than 270 ready-mix concrete plants. CEMEX’s two contracts in question are a result of two leases put out for competitive bid by
the BLM to mine sand and gravel. The BLM subsequently approved CEMEX’s project and these two contracts by issuing a Record of Decision following a lengthy review process which lasted more than 10 years. Preventing the company from carrying out these contracts
could constitute a taking and expose taxpayers as a result.

The full letter is below. To sign on, please email Jeff Small at (jeff.small@mail.house.gov).

Sincerely,
 

Andy Biggs                                                                Paul A. Gosar                                               Doug LaMalfa
Member of Congress                                                 Member of Congress                                         Member of Congress

 

January _____, 2018

 

The Honorable Thad Cochran                                           The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Chairman                                                                           Vice-Chairman
United States Senate                                                          United States Senate
Committee on Appropriations                                           Committee on Appropriations
S-128, the Capitol                                                             S-146A, the Capitol
Washington, DC 20510                                                     Washington, DC 20510

 

The Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen                             The Honorable Nita Lowey
Chairman                                                                           Ranking Member
U.S. House of Representatives                                         U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Appropriations                                           Committee on Appropriations                                                     
H-305, the Capitol                                                            1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515                                                     Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairmen Cochran and Frelinghuysen, Vice-Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Lowey,

We write to urge you to reject any provisions in any comprehensive funding bill or Omnibus which include language authorizing a mineral withdrawal or the withholding or prohibition of use of agency funds in relation to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) contracts
number CA 20139 and CA 22901 issued to CEMEX for sand and gravel mining.

The draft version of the Senate Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill includes in Section 124(a) the withdrawal of the mineral estate in the area covered by the contracts. This misguided provision, included at the behest of a Democrat
Senator, represents another political attempt to short-circuit CEMEX’s Soledad operations and prevent the company from fulfilling two contracts issued by the BLM. A similar amendment put forth in the House was withdrawn due to overwhelming opposition and impending
failure.

CEMEX’s U.S. network includes 11 cement plants, 43 strategically located distribution terminals, 57 aggregate quarries and more than 270 ready-mix concrete plants. CEMEX’s two contracts in question are a result of the two contracts being put out for competitive
bid by the BLM to mine sand and gravel. The BLM subsequently approved CEMEX’s project and these two contracts by issuing a Record of Decision following a lengthy review process which lasted more than 10 years. The withdrawal of the mineral estate covered by
these contracts could constitute a taking and expose taxpayers.

Further, the established procedures for mineral production are subject to robust safeguards and protocols exercised by agencies, states and local governments which are governed by extensive statutory requirements – these are technical rather than political
actions, and as such proceed according to the law.

In this case, it is clear that the attempts to attack these contracts occur on the basis that the politicians who have worked to do so find it politically advantageous. But it is improper for political preferences to impinge upon the orderly, statutory-guided
process. In fact, the very purpose of agency review guided by statute is so that decisions can be regular and not subject to haphazard political infiltrations.

The contracts in question have also been subject to extensive litigation, which to-date CEMEX has prevailed in. Litigation is the opportunity for parties claiming damages or statutory deficiency in the mineral development and review process to press their
case. It is inappropriate for politics to intervene in the case of the failure of any substantive basis on which development would be halted. The meaning of such an intervention is that an individual politician has decided it is in their best interest to disrupt
the normal functioning of the law. While that self-interest incentive can appear compelling to a politician, their actions that result are the antithesis of good public policy.

You may notice we have made no argument in this letter concerning the merits or benefits of the development of the contracts in question – for the State of California, for the mining industry, or otherwise. Though a cursory glance seems to indicate those
benefits would be substantial, the actual question at hand has nothing to do with whether development is sufficiently beneficent in this case, or whether the resultant projects would be safe, etc. Those considerations are incredibly important, but they are
already accounted for in the profit calculations of individual companies, and the statutes underlying mineral proposal assessments, respectively. The only consideration that is relevant here is whether a given public servant’s political advantage should be
attached greater priority than the established, effective workings of the law – a question that we believe answers itself in a public policy context.

Accordingly, we ask that you take these considerations seriously when negotiating a final appropriations package and work to depoliticize our agency processes by ensuring such language does not make it into negotiated base text.

Sincerely,

Cc:  Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ryan Zinke
       Senate Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Chairman Lisa Murkowski
       Senate Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Tom Udall
       House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Chairman Ken Calvert
       House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Ranking Member Betty McCollum

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information:Appropriations, Environment, Natural Resources

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