American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 Obama’s nominee for assistant administrator for the EPA’s water office, said that the agency had spent $2.4 million in external costs,” implying that the actual cost is even higher, as the figure does not take into account internal EPA cost, for which Kopocis was unable to provide numbers.

    This is particularly relevant, as the assessment appears to be part of a concerted effort to preemptively derail a promising mining project, and was conducted in spite of the fact that no permit requests had been filed or substantive plans had been submitted. These figures surface on the heels of previous reports of lavish EPA spending of $169,381 on a peer review meeting held this summer on the assessment (which comes out to $10,586 per person).

    A project like Pebble isn’t significant simply for the thousands of jobs directly at stake; rather, the outcome of a preemptive veto decision would affect similar future efforts at the potential cost of tens or hundreds of thousands — even millions of jobs. It all starts with a single project, a single metal; Bristol Bay is just the beginning.

  • 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 a pre-emptive EPA veto of the Pebble project – a promising deposit of strategic minerals, including Copper, Molybdenum and Rhenium in Alaska, with both proponents and opponents weighing in heavily on the EPA’s assessment.

    The drastic increase in public comments compared to the last public comment period underscores the significance of this issue: If the EPA continues down this road and is allowed to set this precedent, every exploratory domestic resource project may be in jeopardy of getting preemptively shut down.

    As the comments show, environmentalists continue their usual tactics of fear-mongering, emotional hyperbole and over-simplification. Quinones quotes several opponents of the Pebble Project, who imply that the issue is simply a question of protecting Alaska’s salmon and its habitat vs. mineral exploration. However, the issue is far more complex. As American Resources Principal Daniel McGroarty has previously pointed out:

    “Few focus on the way the “Not In My Back Yard” mentality morphs into environmental imperialism, empowering rogue rulers and harming the poor and powerless.

    Consider the fact that copper – the primary product in the case of the Alaska mine in Cantwell’s crosshairs – is a critical technology-metal, no less than exotic elements like the Rare Earths. Case in point: The copper content of a single wind turbine weighs in at 3 to 4 ½ tons. Copper is also the source for Selenium, a little-known metal that is key to next-gen solar power systems.

    So would stopping a U.S. copper mine save salmon? Or would it sacrifice wind and solar power we’re counting on to make the transition to a green economy? If we’re pro-salmon, we’ve got to be anti-copper – but if we’re anti-copper, won’t that make us anti-wind and anti-sun? Life isn’t always as simple as that “Save the Salmon” bumper sticker.

    But for the NIMBY mentality, all that matters is stopping the mine. Where we get the metals we need is, well … someone else’s problem.”

    A glaring example of emotional hyperbole is provided by the National Resources Defense Council, one of the key groups pushing the pre-emptive veto, saying of the Pebble Mine “We view this as one of the worst projects anywhere in the world today,” and, as quoted by McGroarty in his latest op-ed for the Wall Street Journal,“EPA’s study (and intervention) is critically important. If left to its own devices, the state of Alaska has never said no to a large mine.” McGroarty refutes the NRDC’s arguments in his WSJ op-ed.

    Meanwhile, in an interesting turn of events, the Washington Post’s editorial board and the left-leaning Center for American Progress – both of whom are not known to be mouthpieces for the mining industry – have recently come out in favor of letting the established permitting process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) take its course – which is encouraging.

    In theory, even the NRDC has acknowledged the important role of NEPA, as this statement on its website indicates:

    “NEPA is democratic at its core. (…) And because informed public engagement often produces ideas, information, and even solutions that the government might otherwise overlook, NEPA leads to better decisions — and better outcomes — for everyone. The NEPA process has saved money, time, lives, historical sites, endangered species, and public lands while encouraging compromise and cultivating better projects with more public support.”

    All of which leaves us scratching our head wondering if, according to NRDC, this process should only be allowed to function if the deck is stacked in its favor to oppose a project …

    As we have previously pointed out: the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process was established to ensure adequate environmental protections for wildlife and habitat – there is simply no compelling reason to preemptively issue a veto and prevent a full and fair review.

    This is the conversation we need to have.

  • 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 [...]
  • Alaska minerals expert joins American Resources panel

    We’re thrilled to announce that Curtis J. Freeman, president of Avalon Development Corporation, has joined the American Resources panel of issue experts. A U.S. Certified Professional Geologist and licensed geologist in the State of Alaska, Mr. Freeman founded Avalon Development Corporation, a mineral exploration consulting firm based in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1985. Mr. Freeman and [...]
  • House Oversight Committee threatens use of subpoena powers in case of the EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed assessment

    As the Daily Caller reports, the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform is stepping up the pressure on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the context of the agency’s controversial negative review of a potential mining project in Alaska’s Bristol Bay area. Reiterating a request made in May of 2012, when the EPA [...]
  • New Year’s Resolutions for U.S. Policymakers (Part 3)

    This is part three of American Resources’ three-part 2012 retrospective. Check out parts one here and two. Traditionally, the New Year is the time when people reflect on the past twelve months and formulate resolutions for the months ahead. As the first hours of 2013 have been dominated by the drama the Fiscal Cliff, our [...]
  • New Year’s Resolutions for U.S. Policymakers (Part 1)

    Traditionally, the New Year is the time when people reflect on the past twelve months and formulate resolutions for the months ahead. As the first hours of 2013 have been dominated by the drama the Fiscal Cliff, our Federal lawmakers may not have gotten around to focusing on other less publicized — but no less [...]