Author: Wells Parker

Wells is a Partner and co-chair of Dorsey’s Energy and Natural Resources Industry Group. Wells focuses primarily on natural resources and renewable energy development. He represents a wide range of mining, oil & gas and renewable energy clients in acquisition, financing, development, permitting, infrastructure and economic development projects.

Interagency Working Group on Mining Laws, Regulations, and Permitting Release Final Report on Proposed U.S. Mining Reforms on Public Lands

In the Fall of 2023, the Interagency Working Group on Mining Laws, Regulations, and Permitting (“IWG”) released its final report containing recommendations to reform how mining is conducted on public lands (the “Final Report”). The IWG was formed to convene experts across various agencies and receive input from the public in order to assess the adequacy of the existing regulatory scheme governing domestic hardrock mining, and to determine whether changes to that scheme were necessary to satisfy the goals set forth in the E.O. 14017 100-Day reviews. 87 Fed. Reg. 18811 (Mar. 31, 2022). The Final Report included a range of recommendations, including those which would require legislative action by Congress, those which...

Trump Administration Proposes Revisions to Streamline Environmental Review Process under National Environmental Policy Act

For many mining and infrastructure projects in the United States, a primary cause of permitting uncertainty, expense, and delay is compliance with the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). On January 10, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) proposed comprehensive revisions to the regulations implementing the NEPA. 85 Fed. Reg. 1684. NEPA documentation is generally required for any project, public or private, that requires approvals from the federal government. The proposed revisions to the NEPA regulations are part of the Trump administration’s efforts to streamline their NEPA review processes. The proposed regulatory revisions include the following changes, among others: More Exemptions from NEPA Review – The proposed rules...

Proposed Rulemaking to Update Environmental Review Process under National Environmental Policy Act – How Your Company Can Participate

One of the principal sources of uncertainty, expense, and delay in the permitting process for many mining and infrastructure projects in the United States, especially those generating public controversy, is compliance with the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). On June 20, 2018, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) seeking public comment on potential revisions to its implementing regulations for the procedural provisions of NEPA. NEPA documentation is generally required for any project, public or private, that requires approvals from the federal government. The ANPR is a continuation of the Trump administration’s efforts to address inefficiencies in the federal permitting process...

A Win For The Mining Industry: EPA Declines To Impose CERCLA 108(b) Financial Responsibility Requirements

Financial assurance and reclamation bond requirements can be a significant cost and regulatory burden for Canadian issuers with mining projects in the United States. Over the last several years, companies with U.S. mining projects have waited while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has considered expanding the financial responsibility requirements applicable to the hardrock mining industry. On December 1, 2017, EPA released a pre-publication version of a final rule determining that imposing CERCLA 108(b) financial responsibility requirements on the hardrock mining industry was unwarranted.[1] The Final Rule satisfies a court-ordered timeline and rejects a proposed rule, published in January 2017,[2] which proposed regulations imposing CERCLA 108(b) financial responsibility requirements on operators of hardrock...

Trump Administration Rulemaking Process to Redefine Scope of Clean Water Act – How Your Company Can Participate

One of the most difficult and costly aspects of developing mining projects in the United States is the permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Trump administration is currently undertaking a rulemaking process to examine and redefine the scope of the CWA. Companies with mining projects in the United States should consider participating in the rulemaking process to assure that their interests are represented. In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) (collectively the Agencies) adopted final regulations redefining the term “waters of the United States,” which defines the scope of federal regulatory jurisdiction under the CWA. States, industry groups, and environmental organizations...

Trump Seeks to Uproot the Obama Climate Change Agenda

Citing concerns over economic harm, President Trump has targeted his predecessor’s climate change agenda. He has sought reversal of a number of key Obama regulations, directives, and other actions, including the Clean Power Plan and the U.S. participation in the Paris accords. The overall blueprint for these actions is found in his March 2017 Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. This order lays out for the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Interior, as well as other agencies, specific actions to take to promote the development and use of domestically produced oil, gas, coal, and nuclear power. The agencies are only now beginning to undertake these actions, which could have...

Despite Trump Approval, Keystone XL Pipeline Still has Hurdles to Cross

The Trump administration recently issued a presidential permit to TransCanada to operate and construct the Keystone XL pipeline. The presidential permit grants permission to construct, connect, operate, and maintain the pipeline facilities at the international border between the United States and Canada, covering approximately 1.2 miles of pipeline. The remaining 1,200 miles of Keystone XL must be approved by various regulatory bodies in the United States and Canada. The granting of the presidential permit is a big step forward for the pipeline, but many significant regulatory and legal steps remain before TransCanada can start construction of Keystone XL. Read more about the issuance of the presidential permit and the hurdles ahead for Keystone...

Impact of New Administration on Natural Resources Development in United States

Anyone who has owned or operated a project involving public lands in the United States knows of the complex jigsaw puzzle of land ownership that defines the landscape of the United States. Jurisdictional governance is divided among Federal, state, Indian, and private ownership, resulting in regulatory tides to which natural resources, energy, and mining projects are subject. The collection of applicable laws, rules, orders, guidance documents, environmental reviews, permits, approvals, and administrative processes create a challenge for parties looking to develop mineral resources. With the election of President Donald Trump and Republican majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate, the tide is changing, and natural resources development—including the mining and energy industries—will...