In a recent op-ed for the Pueblo Chieftain, National Mining Association president and CEO Hal Quinn and Colorado Mining Association president Stuart Sanderson discuss the U.S. Administration’s recent decision to take more than 300,000 acres of federal public lands in six Western states, including Colorado, off limits for mineral exploration.
Embedding it into the context of the decision’s purported goal – to advance solar power development – they argue that the administration’s decision overlooks the fact that mineral exploration and renewable energy technology can coexist, and in doing so, it increases the United States’ vulnerabilities:
“Limiting domestic minerals exploration and development jeopardizes the very technologies the government is trying to nurture while increasing our reliance on foreign sources of minerals — a tenuous position to be in when it comes to resources so vital to our nation.
As it stands, the United States is already 100 percent import reliant for 18 key minerals. The U.S. imports $6.9 billion worth of mineral materials from foreign countries annually, despite having $6.2 trillion worth of key minerals within its own borders. Despite this, the government already restricts or prohibits new mining operations on more than half of all federally owned public lands.
Heavy import dependence and lagging domestic mineral development is limiting our economy’s potential and hampering national security efforts.”
And, considering the amounts of copper and nickel used in solar and wind technologies, the bottom line is simple: without minerals, there’s no solar technology — that is, at least none that’s made in America.