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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Interview: AEMA’s Laura Skaer – The Mining Industry’s Challenges and a Look Ahead

    For the last few months, politics has sucked up much of the oxygen in Washington, DC and around the country.  With the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States behind us, many of us are hopeful that the time has come to finally shift the focus away from politics toward policy.

    Against the backdrop of the change of Administrations, our friend Laura Skaer, Executive Director of the American Exploration & Mining Association (AEMA), (formerly Northwest Mining Association), shared her views on the many challenges that have been facing mining industry, as well her organization’s policy priorities going forward, in an interview with Outsider Club.

    According to Skaer, an issue that has and will continue to range high on the agenda is a proposed set of new financial assurance requirements for owners and operators of certain hard rock mining operations. The EPA’s proposal, which was dropped last year, would not only preempt state authority, it would duplicate the responsibilities of other federal agencies, dealing a potentially devastating blow to mining companies, as ARPN Principal Daniel McGroarty outlined in a widely publicized op-ed last summer.

    Meanwhile, this rule was one of numerous policy changes “designed to make it more difficult to access mineral deposits, make permitting more difficult, put more lands off limits and withdraw lands from exploration” under the outgoing Administration.    

    With the changing of the guard, policy makers and administrators may likely take a fresh look at these policies. Legislation to streamline our nation’s onerous permitting system, which already came close to passing only to fizzle when the effort to pass a comprehensive energy bill lost steam towards the end of last year, likely stands a better chance of passing Congress and receiving the president’s signature this year.

    Says Skaer:

    “If Canada can do it in two to three years, to the same environmental and engineering standards that we have in the United States, there’s no reason why the United States can’t get mines permitted in the same amount of time. And we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to get that.” 

    Another area in which she believes we may see some changes, revolves around salary reviews for federal employees working in agencies involved in mineral resource policy. These currently do not include performance indicators for an employee’s work on mineral projects – and as Skaer argues:

    “If you’ve got these projects like mining projects or exploration projects that aren’t part of your grade, well, they’re naturally going to fall to the bottom of the pile. That’s one thing we can do that won’t require Congress.”

    In today’s high-tech world, old paradigms have shifted. Irrespective of where you come down on the political spectrum, the mineral resource policy challenges we face as a nation – including our over-reliance on foreign metals and minerals – have only grown over time, and warrant a response.  Thankfully, we can tap into vast mineral riches beneath our own soil. If and how we unlock our mineral resource potential will significantly impact our competitiveness and national security going forward.

    The next few months will see a vigorous debate in Washington on the best ways to revive manufacturing, re-shore American businesses, strengthen our technological competitiveness and restore vital defense capabilities.  At ARPN, we’ll watch closely to see if resource development is recognized as a common root for all of these pressing policy issues.

    To read the full interview with Laura Skaer click here

     

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  • McGroarty before U.S. Senate Committee: “Increased Resource Dependence Jeopardizes U.S. Economic Strength and Manufacturing Might”

    In his testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on “the Near-Term Outlook for Energy and Commodities Markets” last week, ARPN Principal Daniel McGroarty argues that while in the long-run, the market is self-corrective, there are certain actions that should be taken while we wait for that long-run to arrive if the U.S. wants to regain its economic strength and manufacturing might.

    McGroarty points to the risks associated with our growing – and largely self-inflicted – dependence on foreign-sourced minerals and metals which have “implications for the strength of the American economic recovery, for the revival of U.S. manufacturing might, and for the hoped-for dominance of U.S. ingenuity and enterprise in the advanced technology applications that we know are shaping the world of the 21s Century.”

    He argues that if the United States continues down the current path of reducing exploration spending while prolonging the already onerous permitting process for mining projects, resource development, and with that associated manufacturing, will move elsewhere.

    Outlining several helpful first steps to mitigate these risks, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) American Mineral Security Act, he concludes:

    “I don’t think there’s another nation in the world that can match American ingenuity.  We can pioneer the ideas behind wind and solar and so much else – but where will the materials that make these new energy sources real – where will they come from?

    How we answer that question will determine to a large extent whether the U.S. can regain its manufacturing might…  Whether America will lead the alternative energy revolution…  And whether the U.S. will have the metals and minerals we need to provide the modern military technology we depend on.” 

    Click here to read the full written testimony.

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  • Lacking Critical Mineral Resource Strategy on Earth, Congress Passes Law for Space Exploration

    In what may be a prime example of not being able to see the forest for the trees, Congress has passed, and President Obama has signed legislation allowing for the commercial extraction of minerals and other materials, including water from the moon and asteroids. Some compare the move to “visions of the great opening of [...]
  • Bipartisan critical minerals bill introduced in U.S. Senate

    A group of seventeen U.S. senators has introduced legislation aimed at addressing the United States’ mineral supply issues. The bill, titled Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013, was put forth by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and the Ranking Member of the committee, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), both of whom were [...]
  • “A case study in critical metals inaction” – ARPN’s McGroarty on Rhenium

    In a new piece for Investor Intel, our very own Dan McGroarty sounds the alarm on a little-noticed but troubling passage in the U.S. House-passed Defense Authorization Act for 2014.  Said section in Title III acknowledges the importance of Tungsten and Molybdenum powders, including Tungsten Rhenium (WRe) wire to a variety of Department of Defense [...]
  • America’s Mineral Resources: Creating Mining & Manufacturing Jobs and Securing America

    Testimony presented by Daniel McGroarty – Oversight Hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources Sub-Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources, March 21, 2013 Chairman Lamborn, my thanks to you and your colleagues on the House Sub-Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources for the opportunity to testify today. I am Daniel McGroarty, [...]
  • Mineral Resources and the Presidential Election

    American Resources Principal Daniel McGroarty addresses the issue of the United States mineral dependencies against the background of mounting Presidential campaign pressures in a piece for The Hill’s Congress Blog. Here’s an excerpt: When it comes to our mineral dependence, President Obama has talked about Rare Earths, talked about strengthening manufacturing, and talked about the [...]
  • Time for a “strategy to bring more U.S. minerals mining operations online”

    National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn had a great piece in the Washington Times last week striking a tune that will be familiar to readers of our blog. Quinn argued that it’s time for the United States “to develop a strategy to bring more U.S. minerals mining operations online.” Here are some of [...]
  • Awareness of rare earths supply issues rising on Capitol Hill

    Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey (D) had a piece up on The Hill’s Congress Blog last week which highlighted China’s near-total rare earths supply monopoly and resulting challenges for our domestic industries. Among other things, it also called for increased domestic rare earths production. Writes Casey: While I hope to see quick action from China, we [...]
  • Rep. Coffman, Congress Launch Rare Earths Caucus

    On Wednesday, December 14, I attended the first-ever meeting of the Congressional Rare Earths Caucus. The brainchild of Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman, a leader on the issue of rare earths and resource dependency, the new caucus will push for rare earths supply chain.  The U.S. Magnetic Materials Association’s Jeff Green conducted the briefing, focusing on [...]

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