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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • “Action Can’t Come Soon Enough” –  A Call for Comprehensive Resource Policy From a National Security Perspective

    As America gets back into the swing of things after suffering from a collective “post-Thanksgiving rut,” James Clad, former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense and current Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC, provides a good  recap of why we need to get our resource policy house in order from a national security perspective in a piece for InsideSources.

    Invoking DoD’s recently released Defense Industrial Base Report, Clad says “U.S. military manufacturing and the military materials supply chain have succumbed to a crippling dependence on overseas imports.”

    He argues that “the challenges faced by our defense industrial base ad supply chain can largely be traced back to successive missteps and omissions,” pointing specifically to unpredictable federal budgeting and the overall erosion of industrial capability and capacity – and specifically the erosion of our mining sector:

    “Once as robust as our manufacturing, the impediments to U.S. domestic mining offers a prime example of what the Defense report now deems unacceptable. The tech-driven economy seems quintessentially and primarily American in origin and impact, but its dependence on esoteric minerals and metals from all corners of the Periodic Table has become glaring. Rare earth mineral imports by the United States have soared in recent years — with customers forced to deal with Chinese production and export monopolies.

    This import reliance makes a sharp contrast to America’s resource position, which remains bountiful.”

    At ARPN, we have long called for a comprehensive and strategic approach to mineral resource policy.  Clad makes an important point, addressing  a valid concern some may have regarding comprehensive policy-setting agendas:

    “As a country, we remain suspicious of top-down “industrial policy,” seeing it as snuffing out enterprise, not saving it.  But we cannot doubt the impact of someone’s industrial policy — China’s industrial policy, that is.

    Within our market economy, there must surely be ways to think out a strategic industrial rescue effort, mapping American vulnerabilities and then crafting a multi-faceted approach to resuscitate industries and key suppliers now being pushed to the brink. This doesn’t mean pampering domestic sole suppliers but, rather, a renewed commitment to improving American competitiveness.

    This means revisiting our often adversarial approach to heavy and extractive industry, without throwing environmental safeguards overboard. Current technology actually enables the strengthening of environmental safeguards and can reduce lengthy approval procedures. Preserving America’s advanced technology requires revisiting some self-imposed barriers to U.S. domestic minerals investment. Other western nations manage to combine environmental protection with speeding up the permitting process — often taking just two or three years in Australia and Canada. There is a middle way.”

    His bottom line is an urgent call to action:

    “Action can’t come soon enough. For the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, we find ourselves facing renewed great power competition. Ensuring we are up to the challenge means rebuilding our military industrial base. We have awoken to the vulnerabilities decades of neglect have imposed, addressing them must start with undoing our self-imposed barriers to competitiveness.”

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  • Post-Thanksgiving Rut? Back to Basics on Resource Policy Issues

    If you’re still struggling to get your bearings after the long Thanksgiving weekend, you’re not alone. A New York Times piece from this Monday provides a good snapshot of what we are going through –  and offers “4 Ways to Stay Motivated When You’re in a Rut:” 
    Writes the NYT:

    “It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving, and we’re all feeling the same thing today: “It’s been Saturday for about 3 days and thus I am not prepared for Monday.”

    The NYT’s first tip is to start small.  A S&P Global Market Intelligence piece from earlier this fall that showed up in our Twitter feed via our friends at the National Mining Association allows us to do just that – it offers a good overview of the mineral resource issues we’re facing today, and reminds us why we need to continue to push for a comprehensive U.S. critical minerals strategy.

    The piece traces our growing over-reliance on foreign metals and minerals and contrasts domestic developments that have contributed to our current challenges with actions taken by China, arguably one of our greatest rivals, and at the same time lead supplier for many metals and minerals the U.S. has to import.

    Followers of ARPN will find familiar themes here. Citing Joe Balash, assistant secretary for land and minerals management at the Interior Department, the authors state that “the path leading to America’s reliance on other countries for mined materials has been complicated and systemic.” While Balash argues that decades of policies reducing the availability of public lands were a major contributing factor, the National Mining Association points to lengthy permitting times for mining projects and a lack of “common-sense policy” to make “best use” of the United States’ mineral riches.

    Outlining the national security challenges that come with our over-reliance on foreign mineral resources, the piece closes with a quote from Greg Gregory, president of Matrion subsidiary Materion Natural Resources, who says what is warranted is a “‘whole-of-government approach’ across department and agency lines to ensure the security of supply of critical minerals and address concerns about mining on public lands and long permitting delays.”

    Says Gregory:

    “First, mining is a heavily regulated industry, and rightfully so. Our facility is regulated by over half a dozen state and federal agencies. (…) However, some federal agencies with little expertise in mining seek to promulgate new regulations that do nothing to increase safety or improve the environment, but only serve to increase the cost of mining in the United States and make it difficult to compete with foreign competitors, even in countries such as Canada and Australia.”

    If you need more background material to “start small” and go back to the basics on mineral resource policy issues, feel free to take another look at our reports here, here, and here.

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  • The Blessings of a New World

    The following is a re-post from 2012: Today is American Thanksgiving – a celebration of the blessings afforded by our forefathers as they overcame adversity in a new land, laboring to obtain from the resources around them the necessities of life:  food, shelter, and warmth against winter’s cold. Since that first winter, the bounty of Thanksgiving [...]
  • The Blessings Of A New World

    The following is a re-post from 2012: Today is American Thanksgiving – a celebration of the blessings afforded by our forefathers as they overcame adversity in a new land, laboring to obtain from the resources around them the necessities of life:  food, shelter, and warmth against winter’s cold. Since that first winter, the bounty of [...]
  • The Blessings of a New World

    Today is American Thanksgiving – a celebration of the blessings afforded by our forefathers as they overcame adversity in a new land, laboring to obtain from the resources around them the necessities of life:  food, shelter, and warmth against winter’s cold. Since that first winter, the bounty of Thanksgiving has become a symbol of the [...]

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