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ARPN Expert Panel Member Explains How a Look to the Past Could Help Us Move Forward on Green Energy Transition

In his latest piece for The Hill, Ned Mamula, member of the ARPN panel of experts and adjunct scholar in geosciences at the Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute, zeroes in on what we have called the “inherent irony” of the Green New Deal – the fact that a green energy transition requires large quantities of mineral resources the exploration and development of which our policy makers have shunned over the years. 

Mamula argues that a look back in history could help us move forward. Pointing to the 1980 Minerals Policy Act, he argues that a reconciliation of mining and renewable energy is possible.

Writes Mamula:

“Forty years ago, both political parties wisely recognized the importance of producing domestic minerals and metals. In 1980, Congress passed the National Materials and Minerals Policy, Research and Development Act—referred to as the ‘Minerals Policy Act.’ At the time, Democrats held a solid majority of both houses, and President Jimmy Carter signed the act into law.

The Minerals Policy Act clearly states we must simultaneously protect the environment and develop minerals:

The Federal Government, as a fundamental aspect of national minerals policy, must seek balance between the environmental, health and safety statutes and regulations…and the need to ensure the reliable availability of strategic and critical minerals.

In other words, the law mandates a balance between mining and the environment and directs the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to consider the vital importance of minerals and give equal weight to mineral production and environmental protection.”

While over the past forty years, this mandate has been largely “forgotten or ignored, as public land management has focused mainly on environmental preservation, making mineral exploration and development difficult if not impossible,” advances in technology harnessed by the modern mining industry make it possible to restore a balance between mining and environmental protection – as the Minerals Policy Act demands.

Concludes Mamula:

“Today’s mines comply with stringent environmental standards using more green mining and environmental protection and reclamation technologies than ever before.

As policymakers consider any new legislation, including the Green New Deal, they must recognize that green objectives cannot be met without domestic mining. Fortunately, 40 years ago Congress presciently enacted a minerals policy to meet the nation’s future need for minerals. Thanks to their vision, we already have a statutory mandate to develop the minerals for domestic consumption from American mines.

By complying with the Minerals Policy Act, the U.S. can once increase mineral production needed to reduce our current dangerous reliance on foreign minerals, become a dominant mineral producer once again, and show the world that mining, renewable energy and the Green New Deal must all go hand-in-hand.”