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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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  • 2016 – A Mixed Bag for Mineral Resource Policy

    It’s that time of the year again.  And as people are gearing up for the New Year, we are taking the opportunity to take stock of the last twelve months, and want to highlight a few select notable developments of relevance to ARPN followers.

    From a mineral resource policy perspective, we saw some positive developments in Congress during the first half of the year, culminating in the inclusion of critical mineral legislation in the House and Senate energy bills, respectively.

    While Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s American Mineral Security Act of 2015 (S. 883) was passed as part of the Senate’s Energy Modernization Policy Act of 2016 (S. 2012), observers were hopeful that the mineral sections of the package would be conferenced with H.R. 1937, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2015 - a bill similar to Murkowski’s introduced by Rep. Mark Amodei, R- Nevada, and passed as part of the House of Representatives’ energy package.  Both bills aimed at facilitating domestic resource development by calling for an assessment of critical mineral resource needs and tackling permitting delays, and would have constituted a big step towards reducing our dependence on foreign mineral resources.

    However, as the summer drew on, a successful conference between both chambers’ versions became more and more doubtful, and in spite of all efforts, in December, the push to enact comprehensive energy legislation with strong critical mineral provisions was declared dead by chamber leaders.

    Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dropped a proposed set of new financial assurance requirements for owners and operators of certain hard rock mining operations. The proposed rule, which ARPN Principal Dan McGroarty discussed in a widely publicized op-ed over in the Summer, would de facto duplicate the responsibilities of other federal agencies, preempt state authority, and in doing so place an undue burden and a potentially devastating blow to the mining industry.  While the EPA published the proposed rule in December, there is a good chance the agency will take a fresh look at the issue with the change of Administrations in January, which is expected to bring a significant shift in policy priorities.

    In 2016, a trend we had previously noted continued – the increasing importance of metals and minerals previously often dubbed “minor metals.”  The growth of the battery technology sector, which ARPN expert Simon Moores’ recent event in Washington, D.C. discussed, represents only one facet of this development.

    Many of these high tech metals and minerals have become indispensible building block of 21st Century tech, and are derived mainly by way of “Co-Product”-development – i.e. as part of the development of more common “Gateway Metals” like Copper, Aluminum, Zinc, Nickel and Tin, for example.   Acknowledging the disparity between the growing importance of these materials and the lack of public discourse on the subject, we embarked on an online informational campaign aimed at shedding light on the relevance and correlation between Gateway and Co-Product Metals.  In case you missed the series or parts thereof, here’s a handy summary post with links to everything we’ve published on the subject.

    As we’ve pointed out as part of our campaign, much remains to be done, as our foreign mineral resource dependencies – particularly for many of the Co-Products we featured, but also for some of the Gateway Metals – are significant, and, in some instances deepening.

    We would be remiss, however, if we didn’t point out a positive development here:

    In October, The Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI) announced it will join with global mining and minerals company Rio Tinto to study new ways to capture Gateway Metals needed in clean power manufacturing.

    As we’ve previously pointed out:

    “[M]any challenges remain and we are a far cry from the comprehensive critical minerals strategy our nation would need. However, efforts like the latest CMI-Rio Tinto public private partnership represent a promising step towards reducing our foreign dependencies for many of the mineral resources that are necessary for our society’s shift towards a clean energy future, and for our domestic manufacturers to thrive and be competitive.”

    On the whole, 2016 represents another mixed bag for mineral resource policy, however, there are indications that with the new Administration taking over in Washington, D.C., we may see a shift towards a more comprehensive and strategic look at our nation’s critical mineral needs.

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  • The EPA’s Latest Push to Regulate Mining Companies – A Solution in Search of A Problem

    If the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has its way, the nation’s miners will be saddled with a new regulation that is akin to a solution in search of a problem.  In the process, it would effectively duplicate other federal agencies’ responsibilities, preempt state authority, and potentially cripple an important industry. ARPN President Daniel McGroarty discusses [...]
  • ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty in the Wall Street Journal

    ARPN’s Dan McGroarty reports a worrisome development in the saga of EPA’s unprecedented use of pre-emptive veto power to stop Alaska’s proposed Pebble Mine even before a mine plan is presented for review: Anti-mining activists are urging EPA to dust off its veto pen again. And again. Noting a common thread between new pushes for [...]
  • Op-ed: How the EPA Sticks Miners With a Motherlode of Regulation

    The following op-ed by American Resources Principal Dan McGroarty was published in the Wall Street Journal on January 3, 2014. The original text can be found here. How the EPA Sticks Miners With a Motherlode of Regulation The years-long wait for mining permits in the U.S. is the worst in the world. On Dec. 13, [...]
  • Farmers React to EPA’s New Water Rule

    ARPN’s Dan McGroarty wrote earlier this month about EPA’s newly-proposed redefinition of water – warning that: “…the issue isn’t just mining. Couple the expansive new water rule to EPA’s unilateral extension of its “dredge and fill” powers, and there’s no reason that oil and gas projects won’t be next. Ditto major construction, transportation routes, and [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Testimony before U.S. House questions EPA’s latest action on supply of critical materials

    The following post was originally published on InvestorIntel.com on August 16, 2013. It is reprinted with permission below. August 16, 2013 — Tracy Weslosky, Publisher of InvestorIntel interviews Daniel (Dan) McGroarty, Founder and President of Carmot Strategic Consultants in Washington, DC, and Founder and President of the American Resources Policy Network; an expert-led organization focused [...]
  • Dan McGroarty discusses looming EPA power-grab for Forbes

    In a new piece for Forbes, American Resources Policy Network principal Daniel McGroarty discusses the EPA’s apparent readiness to unilaterally expand its powers under the Clean Water Act to pre-emptively veto a promising mining project in Alaska – the Pebble Mine. As McGroarty argues, if the EPA were to issue a veto based on its [...]
  • EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment: A Factual Review of a Hypothetical Scenario

    Testimony presented by Daniel McGroarty – Oversight Hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space & Technology Subcommittee, August 1, 2013 Chairman Broun, Ranking Member Maffei, Members of the Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Daniel McGroarty, and I am president of the American Resources Policy [...]

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