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Critical Minerals, national security and EPA overreach

In a new column featured on the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s website, American Resources principal Daniel McGroarty discusses the latest American Resources report on Critical Minerals & National Security in the context of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s latest manifestations of regulatory overreach.

Here are his key points:

  • The EPA’s activist approach to regulating natural resource development, which often amounts to overreach and has created regulatory uncertainty is harmful to U.S. competitiveness, as the cases of Rare Earths and Copper show:
    • In spite of skyrocketing demand for these critical metals and minerals, U.S. mine production for them has proportionately declined.

Our report shows our degree of mineral import dependency at alarmingly high rates:

  • More than 50% of our supply for 43 critical metals and minerals is foreign-sourced, with China being a top-three supplier for one in every five of these elements.
  • Meanwhile, we have known reserves for 87 percent of the critical metals and minerals studied in our report.
  • Exploring and developing our domestic resources would provide a boon to the U.S. economy – almost immediately, particularly as many of these projects are literally “shovel-ready,” but tied up in a rigid permitting nightmare.

Only making matters worse, the EPA’s premature (and unsurprisingly negative) draft environmental assessment of the Bristol Bay Watershed in Southwest Alaska was based on its claim that:

“section 404C of the Clean Water Act gave it the power to conduct this review — and to stop a project, if necessary — before a permit application has been submitted for the resource deposit.”

Says McGroarty:

“The chilling effect of these EPA actions goes well beyond mining. Over $220 billion in U.S. investment runs through 404 permits, spanning farming, manufacturing, building, energy, water treatment, and resource extraction projects. With the economy still sputtering, the U.S. government should seize every opportunity to encourage investment and stimulate domestic production. Sourcing more vital minerals and metals at home would reduce costly foreign dependencies, while creating jobs and energizing the economy.”