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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • The Arctic – A Looming Battlefield for Resource Supremacy?

    While relations between Russia and the United States continue to make headlines on a daily basis, one particular aspect of this relationship – in spite of the fact that it may be one of the most contentious ones – has been largely flying under the radar.

    As Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin recently wrote:

    “The next battle for supremacy between the U.S. and Russia is shaping up to be a lot chillier than the last Cold War with the Soviet superpower.”

    Griffin’s temperature reference invokes the geographic location of the site of contention rather than the intensity of the looming “battle” – the Arctic.  And while said “battle” will likely not escalate into actual warfare, stakeholders would be well advised to pay closer attention to what is happening to our North, as it is currently the site of “the focus of a resource grab by Russia and China.”

    Just last month, the Russian defense ministry invited visitors to its website to take a “visual tour” of its new military base in Franz Josef Land, a huge remote archipelago in the Arctic which President Vladimir Putin visited in March of this year.  The base is the second Arctic one built in the Putin era, with the Russian military planning the installation of four additional military bases in region in the coming years.

    While Russia has been flexing its military muscle in the resource-rich Arctic, which it sees as a key strategic location - all while touting peaceful cooperation on the diplomacy front – China, notwithstanding its cartographical lack of an Arctic footprint, has also made a foray into the region over the past few years.

    According to the country’s State Oceanic Administration, China, which considers itself a “near-Arctic state,” views the region as holding “the inherited wealth of all humankind.”  Consequently, China has not only sought, and in 2013 secured, permanent observer status on the Arctic Council, but has also stepped up investment and diplomacy in the region, with Chinese President Xi Jinping incorporating two Arctic stopovers – one in Finland and one in Alaska – into his trip to the United States to meet with President Trump this spring.

    These moves, coupled with the normalization of previously icy relations between China and Norway, and a free trade agreement between Iceland and China, have led professors at Tsinghua University to conclude that “Bejing’s [new Silk Road] strategy does not stop at belt and road”, and rather includes “One belt, one road, and one circle,” with the circle referring to the Arctic circle.

    Meanwhile, the United States is “woefully behind” in the Arctic race, as former Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp, who served as the State Department’s special representative to the Arctic, recently told Fox News, adding that:

    “We’ve got our minds on a lot of other things around the world, and we’re not focused on the Arctic. (…) Russia, on the other hand, is very connected. It’s part of their culture. They appreciate the riches, the oil and gas reserves that they have along that very long coastline, and they are looking to exploit it for their own prosperity.”

    China is obviously looking to do the same.

    As ARPN’s Dan McGroarty previously pointed out, the United States’ claim to the Arctic comes via Alaska, and what he said a few years ago, is perhaps even more pertinent today:

    “For the U.S., our Arctic claims come via Alaska – a.k.a. Seward’s Folly, and perhaps the best $7.2 million ever spent by the U.S. Government. Across a range of metals and minerals, expect Alaska – and by extension, our Arctic claims – to play a key role in resource supply in the 21st century. Forget the folly: let’s make that William Seward, futurist.”

    In this context, one can only hope that the recent settlement between the EPA and the Pebble Partnership over the Pebble Deposit in Alaska – albeit years overdue – will be part of a growing realization that it is time to assertively stake the United States’ claim in the Arctic and near-Arctic environs.  The other players have made it clear that they will not wait for us.

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  • EPA Overreach: Headed for Congressional Push-Back?

    The EPA’s unilateral expansion of its authority appears to be heading for some Congressional push-back. Witness a column written by Alaska’s senior Senator, Lisa Murkowski, for Alaska’s Anchorage Daily News, in which Murkowski asks:

    “What would Alaskans say if a federal agency retroactively vetoed permits for development of Prudhoe Bay, declaring it never should have been allowed on the North Slope?

    What would we think if a federal agency unilaterally banned development in the non-wilderness portion of ANWR?

    And what if a federal agency halted efforts to reopen the Nikiski LNG terminal, without any right of appeal, because a tiny portion of the property was once considered wetlands?

    While these scenarios might have once seemed far-fetched, all of them – and more – will be possible if the dramatic expansion of EPA’s power under the Clean Water Act continues unchecked.”

    Murkowski proceeds to reference her co-sponsorship of S 2156,“The Regulatory Fairness Act,” introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). The bill — at 396 words, a marvel of brevity in the word fog enveloping today’s Washington – aims to put guard rails back on EPA’s authority, declaring that the agency shall have no power to preemptively veto a project that has not yet presented a plan for permitting, nor shall it have ex post facto power to claw back a permit already lawfully granted. ARPN readers will recognize the preemptive and ex post facto cases as the proposed multi-metal Pebble Mine in Alaska – where EPA created a pre-approval process so onerous that both major mining investors paired with the Pebble team withdrew from the project — and the Spruce coal mine in West Virginia, which saw its permit rescinded by EPA two years after it was granted.

    Murkowski notes that the proposed bill “does not eliminate EPA’s veto power or prohibit the protection of any lands and waters. It does not make it easier for a project to win approval, or weaken the environmental review process that major projects must undergo. Instead, the bill establishes a reasonable and reliable timeframe for EPA to issue any vetoes it determines necessary.”

    In other words, it restores EPA’s authority to the status quo ante – before the agency began to stretch its own powers in ways that will cast a chilling effect not just over mining projects, but as ARPN’s Dan McGroarty has argued, over economic development in sectors as varied as construction, transportation, manufacturing and even agriculture.

    As much as $220 billion in economic development comes under EPA’s review each year, a dollar value that will only rise if the Agency succeeds in taking the law into its own hands. It remains to be seen if Congress, as law-maker, takes it back.

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  • Witnesses lament EPA overreach during Congressional hearing

    The government shutdown notwithstanding, mining experts took to Capitol Hill this week to share their concerns about the roadblocks they encounter in the form of often unnecessary and costly regulations, and even – in some cases – abusive actions on the part of the Obama Administration, with members of Congress. During Thursday’s House Natural Resources [...]
  • As EPA Administrator visits Bristol Bay, environmentalists repeat call for preemptive veto

    While Members of Congress spent some time in their home districts last month, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy traveled to Alaska to discuss the President’s climate action plan and hear arguments from stakeholders in the Bristol Bay area on the proposed Pebble mine. Opponents of the project used the occasion to once more push for a [...]
  • Senate hearing puts price tag on EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment

    The Daily Caller Foundation’s Michael Bastasch, who has consistently offered thorough coverage of some of the most pressing mineral- and mining-related issues, last week took a closer look at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s spending on the agency’s controversial Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. According to Bastasch, during a recent U.S. Senate hearing, “Ken Kopocis, President [...]
  • Debate over Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment should focus on NEPA process, not emotional hyperbole and over-simplification

    With the public commenting period for the EPA’s revised Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment now closed, Environment and Energy Publishing’s Manuel Quinones zeroes in on the comments submitted to the agency in his latest piece for E&E Daily (subscription required). According to the article, the battle lines are drawn on the push by environmentalist groups for [...]
  • Op-ed: A Potential Copper Bonanza Runs Afoul of the EPA

    The following op-ed by American Resources Principal Dan McGroarty was published in the Wall Street Journal on July 5, 2013. The original text can be found here. A Potential Copper Bonanza Runs Afoul of the EPA The metal is essential for wind turbines, but a proposed mine in Alaska has set off Keystone-like alarms. By Daniel [...]
  • Dan McGroarty featured (again) on the Glen Biegel Show

    American Resources President Dan McGroarty made his second appearance on the Glen Biegel Show in Anchorage, AK on Monday to discuss the U.S. mining permitting process and the proposed Pebble mine. Listen below.    
  • Alaska Senate passes resolution in support of REE exploration

    Alaska continues to be a state leader when it comes to formulating mineral resource policy. In line with Gov. Sean Parnell’s five-part strategy to support the mining industry, the State Senate has passed a resolution in support of in-state Rare Earths exploration, which urges state agencies and the federal government to lend its support to [...]
  • Alaska maps state’s “mineral potential from the land and air”

    As the Juneau Empire’s Russell Stigall reports, the State of Alaska’s efforts to map Alaska’s “mineral potential from the land and air” are in full swing. Thanks to the state’s – and particularly Southeast Alaska’s – rich geology, state geologists, including Bob Swenson, state geologist and director of the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical [...]

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