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Yesterday, I attended a hearing in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals. They were reviewing a small package of bills that are part of a broader effort by the House majority to highlight the mining industry’s impact on job creation.

This second installment included a discussion of HR 2803, which is a bill instructing the Interior Department to conduct a study exploring the feasibility of drilling for minerals in the shallow and deep sea beds of the United States. The bill is offered by Delegate Faleomavaega of American Samoa and is intended to potentially facilitate the exploration of mineral resources in places like Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and other American territories.

I am generally in favor of study. In fact, the only time I do not like study is when it’s an attempt to delay that which every reasonable person already knows should have happened a while ago. So I appreciate Delegate Faleomavaega’s effort here. There is much we do not know about mining on the sea floor. The US Geological Service and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement should help develop our knowledge of our potential mineral resources. And hopefully this information can lead to a sober assessment of the economic viability of their extraction as well as best practices to protect the environment.

Some of the areas contemplated by this bill are high volume tourist attractions. No amount of mining could even approach the revenue generated from the tourism industry. Clearly, any attempt to experiment with a relatively novel extraction method should provide an important case study in minimizing adverse environmental impacts- especially where some of our favorite vacation spots are involved.