American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Exporting California’s hazardous waste makes mockery of “environmental justice” concept

    California Flag

    Slowing down the permitting process is a common practice used by environmentalists to derail mining and construction projects, so one can’t help but notice the irony of a slow permitting process that complicates environmental cleanup. However, this is what is currently happening in California.

    As we have previously pointed out, the Golden State is in danger of losing much of its shine thanks to its onerous permitting process and California Environmental Quality Act regulations that don’t appear to be reforming anytime soon. And when it comes to regulations, Californians think of themselves as leaders when it comes to protecting the environment. However, it has been recently made public that there has been a significant increase in hazardous waste being exported out of the state and around the state’s more strict regulations. As California has some of the strictest environmental laws, certain categories of Californian “hazardous waste” do not meet that definition in states to which this waste is shipped, and consequently may not receive the same level of treatment there. In fact, according to the Sacramento Bee, the percent of hazardous waste being exported from the state has increased over 300 percent since 2006.

    A look at the numbers reveals that more than 540,000 tons of hazardous waste have been sent out-of-state, with five states accounting for taking in 93 percent of Californian waste exports.

    The rub is that a slow permitting process, largely courtesy of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), is in fact preventing toxic waste cleanup because facilities with the capability to properly store and/or dispose of the waste are not given permission to do so.

    This means that California’s existing (and effective) waste disposal facilities are being disregarded in favor of those in other states, making a mockery of the state’s own environmental protection regulations and the concept of “environmental justice.” It’s time for a cleanup – and the permitting process might be a good place to start.

  • California – Red Tape Central

    California’s nickname, “the Golden State,” can be traced by back to the discovery of the precious metal in the middle of the 19th century. For decades after World War II, it was the proverbial land of milk and honey, a destination for people and businesses in search of opportunity.

    Fast forward to today, and the Golden State has lost much of its shine. California has been hemorrhaging residents and businesses for several years, and a closer look reveals that much of this outmigration is due to its poor business and regulatory climate. A look at the mining industry, an area with much potential in the state given California’s vast mineral riches sheds some light.

    Once a mecca for resource developers, the state has “probably the most difficult place to obtain the permits to extract the great wealth from the ground.” In the 2011/2012 Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies, an exploration company manager laments: “There are NO exemplary policies in the State of California in relation to mining or the environment. They got it wrong.” And another mining executive adds: “California seems to lead the way in North America in trying to impede development of any sort.” In the Fraser Institute’s 2012/2013 ranking, California had the dubious honor of being the runner-up in the “jurisdiction-with-least-favorable-policies-towards-mining” category, surrounded by jurisdictions like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

    Indeed, California has some of the strictest environmental regulations and if a project passes the Federal sniff test – difficult enough given our protracted national approval process – it does not an automatically guarantee it will clear The California Environmental Quality Act. (CEQA). It’s no wonder that so many companies and public officials in Sacramento are calling for significant reform to CEQA this year.

    Permitting delays are the order of the day, so much so that more than fifty percent of respondents in the Fraser Institute Survey are calling regulatory duplication and inconsistencies, as well as regulatory uncertainty, strong deterrents to investment in the state, with many even saying they would not invest.

    While it is difficult to put a number or even a price tag on the opportunities lost, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s report, “Progress Denied: A Study on the Potential Economic Impact of Permitting Challenges Facing Proposed Energy Projects,” gives a glimpse into projects delayed by impediments like regulatory barriers, and attempts to calculate the potential losses in economic value. For California, the study lists 31 such projects, and the figures below illustrate the benefits which could be reaped from bringing these projects online.


    Benefits from Proposed Energy Projects in California
    (delayed or cancelled due to significant impediments such
    as regulatory barriers)

    Upfront Investment (total of all projects)
    Total Economic Output (in PDV) $59,100,000,000
    Employment Earnings (in PDV) $19,600,000,000
    Average Annual Jobs 142,100

    First Year of Operations (total of all projects)
    Total Economic Output (in PDV) $6,500,000,000
    Employment Earnings (in PDV) $1,700,000,000
    Average Jobs Created in Year 1 32,200


    The numbers are staggering on their own terms – but if one considers the fact that the Chamber study only covers energy-related projects, it becomes apparent just how much economic opportunity is forgone in California due to regulatory red tape.

    Unfortunately, while other U.S. states like Alaska and Wisconsin are making strides towards improving their regulatory environment, there is no improvement in sight in what used to be the Golden State.

  • Red tape abundance – challenges associated with the U.S. permitting system

    With the release of this year’s instructive Behre Dolbear “Where Not to Invest” study, a report that ranks – among other things – the time it takes to bring new mines online in various nations, it comes as no surprise to see that the United States has tied with Papua New Guinea for the second [...]
  • A plea for mineral permitting reform

    If you think hard enough, you can find something wrong with anything. Case in point: If there’s anything remotely wrong with having an op-ed appear in the Wall Street Journal, it’s that, for some topics, sometimes 750 words just isn’t enough. So I’ll step back here to the Internet for a bit of prequel and [...]
  • Proposed Canadian federal budget emphasizes need to expedite resource development

    Contrasting sharply with the current U.S. domestic mineral policy environment, Canada’s federal budget to be released by the Harper Administration next week will reflect its stated commitment to removing barriers to investment and resource development. Specific legislative language has yet to be introduced; however, according to the Canada Free Press, the budget outline will emphasize [...]
  • A new dimension of Resource Wars – China throws hat into Arctic ring

    Having intensified over the past few months with Russia reportedly willing to risk a new “Cold War” over the area’s vast resources, the geopolitics of the Arctic’s race for mineral riches has just been elevated to a whole new level with China having thrown its hat into the ring. According to the Wall Street Journal’s [...]
  • The “Neverending Story” of red tape, roadblocks for mining in Arizona

    Authorities in Pima County, Ariz., have denied an air quality permit application submitted by Rosemont Copper as part of its efforts to open a new mine southeast of Tucson. Claiming the company failed to provide proper documentation, the county’s Air Quality Control district delivered the denial on Thursday, September 29. Rosemont Copper submitted its proposal for [...]