In a column for the Wall Street Journal, American Resources Policy Network president Dan McGroarty acknowledges some positive signs coming from the Obama Administration indicating an increased focus on access to critical metals and minerals, but underscores that the “situation is actually more acute.”
Citing General Electric as an example of a manufacturer that uses 72 of the first 82 elements on the Periodic Table in its product manufacturing mix, McGroarty underscores the urgency of the United States’ overreliance on foreign mineral imports.
In his piece, McGroarty also points to an area where the White House’s stated goal to “support U.S. institutions in the effort to discover, manufacture, and deploy advanced materials twice as fast, at a fraction of the cost,” through its Material Genome Initiative is at odds with actual government policy:
“The need for speed is accurate, but it’s going to prove difficult for American innovators to be twice as fast when America’s mine permitting process is easily twice as slow as in other mining nations.”
It remains to be seen whether actual reforms will result from the White House policy initiatives, or whether Washington, DC will return to business as usual. Says McGroarty:
“Reform could begin with streamlining the permitting process to get rid of redundancies at the local, state and federal levels, so the process can run concurrently. Among other benefits, this would mean that environmental challenges and litigation—bitter ironies given the fact that the mined metals and minerals are needed for many forms of green energy—do not set the permit process back repeatedly.
All that will depend on whether the White House initiative is the first step toward a strategic-resource policy that asserts the importance of domestic metals and minerals exploration. Or will the initiative bring only a federally funded study group writing what might prove to be the definitive white paper on the industrial decline of the U.S.?”