Committee Advances Bipartisan Barrasso Parks, Mining Bills

September 21, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), applauded ENR for voting to advance his bipartisan Connect Our Parks Act (S.2018) and the Mining Schools Act (S. 912).

The Connect Our Parks Act, which Senator Barrasso introduced with Senator Angus King (I-ME), will direct each National Park to assess where broadband service is needed and develop a plan to increase access to internet and cellular service. Increased cellular and internet access inside the parks is a crucial component of public safety. Furthermore, broadband access has been identified as a barrier to hiring and retaining qualified employees for the National Park Service, a current crisis within the agency.

“In 2022 there were more than 311 million visits to our national parks. These visitors expect to have cellular access for phone calls, text messaging, emergency services, and to be able to post pictures of their visits on social media. The bipartisan Connect our Parks Act will help ensure the people who visit our national parks have the access to the broadband and the cellular service that they all need,” said ranking member Barrasso during the mark up.

In addition, Senator Barrasso’s the Mining Schools Act would establish a grant program for mining schools to receive funds in order to recruit students and carry out studies, research projects, or demonstration projects related to the production of minerals. It would also establish the Mining Professional Development Advisory Board to evaluate applications and recommend recipients to the Secretary of Energy, as well as conduct oversight to ensure that grant funds are appropriately used. This bill is a bipartisan effort with original cosponsor ENR chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“By 2029, over half of the current mining workforce here at home will retire. In contrast, by 2040, total mineral demand is expected to double. So, we won’t have the workforce to tackle these challenges unless we continue to recruit and train the next generation of American workers. The mining schools are an essential part of that process,” continued ranking member Barrasso.

For more information or to watch the mark up in full, click here.