House Agriculture Committee Advances House Draft Farm Bill
On Thursday July 12, the House Agriculture Committee voted to send an amended draft of the farm bill to the House with favorable recommendations after working Wednesday through almost 100 proposed amendments regarding the House farm bill. The draft bill includes more than $35 billion in mandatory funding and repeals direct payments to farmers, counter-cyclical payments, the Average Crop Revenue Election program and Supplemental Revenue Assistance program. The repealed subsidies will be replaced with a new Agriculture Risk Coverage program. The draft bill also consolidates 23 conservation programs into 13.
House Bill to Influence Clean Energy Loans
On Tuesday July 10, House Republicans released a discussion document regarding draft legislation which could limit the Administration’s ability to guarantee loans to clean energy projects. The draft legislation reflects the Administration’s handling of $535 million in funds allocated to a solar panel manufacturer which is now bankrupt. The draft legislation within the discussion document would prevent the government from providing loans for clean energy projects to other investors. The current bill draft was created in response to the approval by US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, allowing solar panel manufacturer Solyndra to repay private financers before taxpayers during bankruptcy. The drafted legislation is intended to limit the Administration’s ability to guarantee loans for renewable energy projects.
On Thursday July 12, the House approved a bill which would advance the process of permitting for mining of rare earth minerals. The current permitting process delays development of the minerals in the US and the new proposed rules would allow extraction of key minerals, eliminating reliance on imports. According to the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act, 67 key minerals used in the US are obtained through imports. If passed, the bill would enable mines on public lands to be eligible for the concurrent environmental reviews that a March 2012 executive order authorized for surface transportation, renewable energy and waterway projects.