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Occurrences in the Congressional Record

Entry Title Date
Celebrating Wilderness Week 2014 September 17, 2014
David Price, D-NC
"Mr. Speaker, I rise in celebration of our nation’s public lands and wilderness and in honor of Wilderness Week, observed September 13-18, 2014. This year, Wilderness Week takes on special meaning, as this September marks the 50th anniversary of two enduring tools for American conservation: the Wilderness Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Passed by Congress in 1964, these two acts remain vital to our efforts of conserving the best of America’s natural lands. On September 3, 1964, President Johnson signed into law the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, landmark legislation that established a dedicated and permanent funding stream for the purpose of protecting and conserving our nation’s irreplaceable outdoor recreational, natural, historic and cultural landmarks. Paid for by royalties collected from oil and gas companies, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has financed generations of projects to bring parks and clean, green spaces to the hearts of our urban areas. The suite of LWCF programs is critical for protecting natural lands, outdoor recreation opportunities, and working forests at the local, state and federal levels. Since its creation, the LWCF program has conserved more than 5 million acres of parks, recreation, forests, and other lands through the federal program and more than 2.6 million acres in communities throughout every state in the nation. But LWCF does more than simply add to our public lands. Investing in LWCF is also an important way to grow our economy. The Outdoor Industry Association states that outdoor recreation contributes more than $1.06 trillion annually to the U.S. economy, supports more than 9.4 million jobs, and stimulates 8 percent of all consumer spending. And The Trust for Public Land found that every $1 invested in LWCF returns $4 in economic value. Without LWCF funding to stimulate matching investments from state, local and private entities, this crucial economic driver will be lost. These numbers prove the program’s success, and I am pleased that the program is also extremely popular. In recent polls, more than 80 percent of voters expressed support for continuing to deposit fees from offshore oil and gas drilling into LWCF—this broad support extends from every geographic region of the country and every political persuasion. Supporters include governors, mayors, sportsmen, industry leaders, conservationists, Civil War enthusiasts, historians, recreationists, small businesses, forest owners, and the many Americans who see firsthand the tangible benefits this program has had on their communities and families. Although LWCF has a dedicated revenue stream from offshore drilling royalties and takes no taxpayer money from the general fund, large portions of this funding have been diverted over the years to non-conservation purposes. Even at last year’s appropriated level of $306 million, we were a far cry from the $900 million that is annually authorized for conservation work. In addition, LWCF’s authorizing legislation is set to expire in September 2015, and it is imperative that we reauthorize this successful program before that date. I believe Congress should uphold its decades long commitment to land and water conservation and reinvigorate LWCF, thereby expanding opportunities for all Americans to have access to parks and natural areas for outdoor recreation. Along with the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, President Johnson also signed into law the Wilderness Act. The Wilderness Act allows Congress to designate some public lands as “wilderness.” These wilderness areas are designed to remain unchanged by humans—to allow ecological and evolutionary processes could be carried out without human intervention and give future generations a “glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning.” As such, these areas are off-limits to commercial ventures, such as logging and mining, and permanent structures (roads and lodges), but they remain available for public exploration. Just as our government had established the first national parks in the world almost a century earlier, the Wilderness Act made the United States the first country in the world to designate and protect wilderness. When it was first signed, the Wilderness Act designated 54 wilderness areas, protecting about 9.1 million acres in 13 states. Since that time, the number of wilderness areas has increased to more than 750, covering about 110 million acres of wilderness in 44 states. Our wilderness areas include some of the highest points of the Rockies to places like Linville Gorge in my home state of North Carolina’s mountains. Sadly, some opponents of conservation in Congress would like to see this hard work undone. In 2012, for the first time, Congress actually took 222 acres out of the wilderness designation. John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, once said, “Wilderness is a necessity … There must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls.” Today, in an increasingly urban nation, wilderness areas are ever more important as we need a place to get away, to enjoy and restore ourselves. Wilderness areas also serve to provide biological diversity, clean air and water, and baseline data for research as we deal with issues like climate change. We need to protect connected landscapes to sustain our fish and wildlife and other natural resources for the future. So, while the 50th anniversary of each of these landmark bills is an occasion for celebration, it must also serve as a reminder of the work we have to do. I once heard it said that “America’s public lands are like unfinished works of art; incomplete masterpieces.” LWCF and the Wilderness Act will help to complete this work. In fact, that was the promise made to the American people 50 years ago when these bills were enacted. President Johnson wisely observed, “True leadership must provide for the next decade and not merely the next day.” So, let us celebrate wilderness week and honor the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and LWCF by renewing our commitment to protect our nation’s wild places."
American Savings Promotion Act September 15, 2014
Michael Fitzpatrick, R-PA
"Studies show that Americans are not saving enough, whether for an emergency or for their retirement. This lack of savings is more pronounced among those with lower incomes. H.R. 3374 seeks to reverse this trend and encourage savings by offering depositors chances to win prizes based on their deposit activity."
Examination And Supervisory Privilege Parity Act Of 2014 July 29, 2014
Ed Perlmutter, D-CO
"Under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, similar protections exist for banks which benefit from express legal protection that provides the confidence and legal certainty to turn over privileged information and documents at the request of their regulators."
Nomination Of Pamela Harris To Be United States Circuit Judge For The Fourth Circuit—Continued July 24, 2014
Ted Cruz, R-TX
"President Obama proposed a $3.7 billion supplemental plan. Mind you, he did not have time to visit the border, to visit the children, to see the suffering, but he proposed yet more spending. The $3.7 billion supplemental is an HHS social services bill. It spends a whole bunch of money. By the way, to give you a sense of just how much $3.7 billion is, for $3.7 billion we could purchase a first-class airplane ticket for each one of these 90,000 children to return them home—first class—sitting in the front row of a commercial airline. After doing so, we could deposit $3.6 billion back in the Federal Treasury. It is a massive amount of money he has asked for, and what is striking, less than 5 percent of it goes to border security."
Securing Energy Critical Elements And American Jobs Act Of 2014 July 22, 2014
Eric Swalwell, D-CA
"Shenzhen, China.—When U.S. Rare Earths Inc. begins mining on the border of Montana and Idaho about two years from now, the U.S. will gain a new domestic, non-Chinese source of minerals essential to making electronic devices and weaponry components. But at the moment, there’s virtually no place for these minerals to be processed into something useful—except China. China’s share of global rare-earth output has been shrinking recently as miners elsewhere capitalized on fears the country controls too much global supply. Even so, China still dominates the complex—and often polluting—middle steps that turn mined material into useful ingredients, including metals and magnets. For example, China supplies about 80% of the specialized magnets produced with rare-earth ingredients like neodymium that are used in everything from elevators to cruise missiles. “It’s amazing people haven’t connected these dots,” said U.S. Rare Earths Chief Executive Kevin Cassidy. His company plans to build facilities in the U.S. to handle difficult middle-stage processes, but that will be expensive and require numerous regulatory approvals. Three years ago China shocked high-technology industries by tightening export controls on a group of 17 elements called rare earths that sent their prices rising as much as tenfold, prompting then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to dub the scare a “wake up call.” Miners responded by racing to find new rare-earth sources in the U.S. and elsewhere. Industry authority Dudley Kingsnorth says those new sources already cut China’s share of global supply to 86% from 93% between 2011 and 2012. China’s export policies are the subject of a continuing dispute between Beijing, Washington and others before the World Trade Organization. The WTO in October ruled illegal certain restrictions on Chinese rare-earth exports, though Beijing is expected to appeal the largely symbolic decision. But when it comes to processing rare earths, China faces little competition—and Wang Qin’s greasy hands illustrate why. The 45-year-old machinist for Feller Magnets Corp. in the southern city of Shenzhen runs dozens of machines that slice magnetic blocks made with rare earth into razor-thin discs that his company says will be installed in mobile phones. While his computerized saws can meet precision specifications for Feller’s high-technology customers, the machines also slick its factory floors with oil. Basins of acids and extreme heat feature in other parts of the facility. The company, which says half its output is sold in China compared with only 30% in recent years, didn’t respond to a request for comment on factory conditions. China’s dominance in a field with a poor environmental record illustrates one way it plays key roles more generally in global manufacturing. China tops world output of chemicals and fertilizers, as well as making lead-acid batteries and harvesting of scrap computer parts for metal. Business executives say that China’s backbone in intermediate industries, including rare-earth processing, allows it to draw in related businesses that depend on the products and thereby deepening its importance to production supply chains from computers to automobiles. In 2010 Beijing significantly crimped exports of rare-earth minerals citing environmental reasons to clean up a chaotic industry. Seeing prices of the elements soar, investors funded dozens of mine exploration projects around the world. Since then, a California mine and one in Australia have ramped up, with others in South Africa, Vietnam, India and Kazakhstan now in the construction phase, according to Gareth Hatch, an industry investor and principal at Illinois-based Technology Metals Research LLC. But he said many prospectors who rushed after 2010 to bring new supplies to market wrongly assumed, “if you build the mine, the downstream supply chain will magically appear outside of China.” A number of U.S. defense contractors declined to comment on industry trends. Northrop Grumman Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. referred questions to the Aerospace Industries Association, which pointed to a September report from the U.S. Congressional Research Service that said “most rare earth materials’ processing is performed in China, giving it a dominant position that could affect world-wide supply and prices.” A Defense Department spokesman said the military continually monitors the situation while citing an “increasingly diverse and robust domestic and global supply chain for rare earth materials.” A March 2012 military report highlighted positive trends “for a market capable of meeting future U.S. Government demand.” While Mr. Kingsnorth, executive director of Industrial Minerals Company of Australia, estimates China’s share of world production could slide to 63% by 2016, he points out that China continues to dominate the nine steps between mining rare earths and producing something with the material. After ore is pried from the ground and unwanted minerals are sifted away to make a concentrate of minerals, complex acid and chemical treatments are required to separate individual rare earths into quantities that are useful. Many of the 17 rare earths share such similar physical properties that separating individual elements can require several months and 1,000 chemical treatments. Outside China, few places have the industrial capacity to separate the elements. Companies in the U.S., Russia, France, Japan and elsewhere handle some of these steps, but China is the only place that has the industrial capacity to do them all. Among those producing fresh output is U.S.-based Molycorp Inc. Yet Molycorp exports some of the neodymium and samarium from its giant deposit in California’s Mojave Desert to its processing facilities in China. “The downstream does take longer to develop,” says Constantine Karayannopoulos, who until this month was Molycorp’s interim chief executive officer and is now vice chairman. Molycorp said it spent $1.5 billion to build a separation facility in California, and Mr. Karayannopoulos estimates a quarter to a third of that cost is related to ensuring the plant operates to high environmental standards, which include recycling wastewater. Still, Molycorp says it is cheaper to make some of its materials at its facilities in China. Mr. Karayannopoulos also estimates around 60% of that output is sold to multinational companies already in China. “I can’t overemphasize how complex supply chains are,” said Mr. Karayannopoulos. A big effort to reduce China’s role in the intermediate steps of processing rare earths is being undertaken by Australia’s Lynas Corp. with a plant opened last year in Malaysia to handle separation processes. But local environmentalists decry the facility as dangerous, and Lynas says it has processed only a fraction of its output there this year. Lynas says none of its material is being sent to China for separation. Increasingly, China is taking steps to expand into more profitable aspects of the rare-earth business that follow the separation processes, instead of exporting those raw materials. Mr. Kingsnorth likens such efforts to European winemakers: “France doesn’t sell any grapes,” he said."

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