As we recover from collective food coma and return to our desks after a tumultuous Thanksgiving travel week, J. Winston Porter, a former EPA assistant administrator in Washington, reminds us of the importance of keeping the focus on the issues associated with our over-reliance on foreign mineral resources.
In a new piece for InsideSources, Porter cautions that recycling is no panacea to our critical minerals woes and points out that we have put ourselves at the mercy of “untrustworthy countries for strategically important minerals.” For example, he says, we rely on Chinese imports for 26 of the 48 minerals for which our country is [more than 50%] import-dependent, and, according to the Commerce Department Russia is a significant source of U.S. uranium imports — import reliance for which currently stands at 93%, and may reach 99% by the end of this year.
Responding to potential environmental concerns of new critical mineral mines, Porter points to the fact that mining is not your grandfather’s industry anymore, and that modern mines “can be designed to protect groundwater quality and not harm the environment.” He continues: “We will need more mines using improved designs and operating practices — coupled with appropriate regulations — in order to ensure that mining is safe.”
Porter points to Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) critical mineral legislation to revamp the mine permitting and regulatory process as an important step in the right direction. In closing, he asks (and answers) the overarching question that should guide policy deliberations going forward:
“Do we want China and other countries to control U.S. access to strategically important minerals? I think the answer is no.”
Click here to read the full piece.