In a new piece for National Review, geoscientist Ned Mamula, who is an adjunct scholar at the Center for the study of Science at the Cato Institute and a member of the ARPN panel of experts and Heritage Foundation senior fellow Stephen Moore offer up their take on the current – and long overdue – push to reduce our over-reliance on foreign non-fuel mineral imports.
Followers of ARPN are well aware that, as Mamula and Moore argue,
“Mineral imports have steadily increased for at least the past two decades because draconian permitting requirements and environmental opposition have made it hard to supply those needs from sources within the U.S. Now there is not enough domestic mining to meet robust manufacturing demand.
However, the real problem is that more and more mineral imports are coming from China, Russia, and third-world dictatorships.”
Against this backdrop, the recent executive order “to ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals for the nation” and the subsequent release of a draft list of 35 metals and minerals critical to U.S. national security is a welcome development.
The piece includes an interesting chart that combines the draft list with one of ARPN’s favorite charts – the 2018 iteration of USGS’s page six of its annual Mineral Commodity Summaries report.
Mamula and Moore place much of the blame for our ever-increasing import dependency on misguided environmental overreach. They write:
“The problem is definitely not a shortage of domestic mineral sources. In fact, the U.S. is well endowed with mineral resources, according to numerous reports by the USGS. The nation was much more mineral self-sufficient in the 1990s, when it led the world in mining output. Since then, however, the U.S. has lost much of its capacity to mine, refine, smelt, or process critical minerals and metals because of a broad anti-mining agenda among many of the more militant environmental groups.
Ironically and unfortunately, ‘greens’ oppose many mineral-resource policies that would actually facilitate environmentally beneficial outcomes, such as renewable energy.”
In spite of the vastness of mineral riches beneath U.S. soil, they argue, “poor federal stewardship policies that restrict exploration in areas of known mineral deposits” have led to “dangerous” mineral resource dependencies.
Mamula and Moore see the executive order and resulting policies as an opportunity for a “huge turnaround for reducing dangerous mineral imports through responsible mining:”
“This EO commits the country to reducing its vulnerability from mineral-import overreliance while paving the way for a cleaner and safer planet through existing and new technologies used by America’s mining industry. Increased domestic mining of abundant mineral resources is absolutely necessary for the economic health of our nation and is a long overdue America First strategy.”
Click here for the full piece.
Also, read Daniel McGroarty’s public comments on the DOI draft list here.