Energy and Mineral Resources
The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources oversees energy development and mining activities on our public lands and federal waters. With nearly a quarter of the country’s carbon pollution coming from fossil fuel development on these publicly owned resources, our public lands and waters are a critical part of the climate solution.
Subcommittee Democrats are committed to fostering a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels and towards and twenty-first century clean-energy economy.
Agencies in our jurisdiction:
- Bureau of Land Management
- Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
- Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement
- United States Geological Survey
- Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
Nydia M. Velázquez
Raúl M. Grijalva
Accelerating Renewable Energy Deployment
- Our public lands and waters are some of the sunniest, windiest, and most geothermically active places on the planet.
- In the 117th Congress, Democrats made the most significant investment in clean energy in U.S. history through the Inflation Reduction Act. This investment included extending and expanding tax credits for wind, solar, and other sustainable energies and funding for permitting and transmission.
- Over the last several years, Congress the Biden administration has successfully advanced offshore wind, updated its onshore wind and solar regulations, and promoted transmission for clean energy across federal land.
- Offshore, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has approved four major offshore wind projects and expects to review at least 15 more plans by 2025, which would represent more than 27 gigawatts of clean energy. The Biden administration aims to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, enough clean energy to power 10 million American homes. As of Summer 2023, the first large-scale projects have begun construction in federal water.
- Democrats support the responsible development of renewable energy resources across our public lands and waters as a key component of our fight against the climate crisis.
Holding the Fossil Fuel Industry Accountable
- For years, Committee Democrats have championed much-needed reforms to the imbalanced oil and gas leasing system on federal lands, many of which passed in last year's Inflation Reduction Act. These reforms will go a long way in ensuring Americans aren't getting short-changed by polluters who don't want to pay a fair price to use our public lands or clean up their messes.
- Fossil fuel’s environmental and health impacts disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities. Too often, fossil fuel communities, often Black, Indigenous, or low-income, become sacrifice zones for industry.
- Committee Democrats aim to hold extractive industries accountable for pollution while working to transition to a clean energy economy, making sure workers and communities are put first.
- Committee Democrats support the Biden administration’s efforts to better regulate the oil and gas industry with new bonding and financial assurance requirements so when companies go bankrupt, communities aren’t left with the mess to clean up.
Reforming the Mining Law of 1872
- Mining of gold, copper, silver, and other minerals on public lands is still governed by the Mining Law of 1872, an antiquated statute that was designed to encourage the settlement of the American West.
- Since that law was passed, mining companies–many of them foreign-owned–have taken over $300 billion worth of valuable metals from public lands without paying a nickel in royalties to the American people.
- Tribal communities are particularly overburdened with mining pollution from decades of exploitative extraction. The vast majority of U.S. nickel, copper, lithium and cobalt reserves – all in-demand minerals for new technologies – are within 35 miles of Tribal lands, but the current law does not require any consultation with affected Tribes before mining.
- The clean energy transition is fueling demand for many minerals needed to build new technology and infrastructure. To ensure any new mining does not endanger the environment, public health, or special and sacred places, Committee Democrats support modernizing our mining laws and making sure we make the best use of the minerals we have already mined through smart development and a circular economy.
- Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Grijalva introduced the Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act to modernize hardrock mining in America by requiring companies to pay a royalty on public minerals they mine, requiring Tribal consultation, strengthening environmental and reclamation standards, protecting special places such as cultural heritage sites, roadless areas and wild and scenic rivers from mining, and devoting resources to cleaning up our long legacy of toxic abandoned mine lands.
Investing in Reclamation
- In the 117th Congress, Democrats secured $15 billion in new funding for the reclamation of abandoned coal mines and orphaned oil and gas wells through the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act.
- This investment will support thousands of new jobs that will help workers transition and clean up communities left with decades-old pollution.
- Committee Democrats are working hard to secure stronger standards on bonding, decommissioning, and reclamation so that new abandonments don’t occur.
Advancing Climate Science
- Americans are already feeling the effects of climate change every day, in more frequent and intense droughts, floods, heatwaves, and storms. The changing climate threatens public health, safety, the economy, and the natural systems that support us.
- Committee Democrats support the Department of the Interior’s efforts to advance climate-resilient lands, waters, and cultural resources, centering the needs of the most affected communities. Black, brown, and Indigenous communities are at the forefront of the climate crisis, and experience disparate and cumulative impacts from the intersection of climate disasters and historic inequalities.
- Programs like the United States Geological Service’s Climate Science Adaptation Science Centers bridge the gap between science and communities. The Centers partner with communities to create the actionable information they need to proactively adapt to changing conditions and be resilient to future disasters.