Traditionally, the New Year is the time when people reflect on the past twelve months and formulate resolutions for the months ahead. As the first hours of 2013 have been dominated by the drama the Fiscal Cliff, our Federal lawmakers may not have gotten around to focusing on other less publicized — but no less pressing — issues, we at the American Resources Policy Network have put together a few New Year’s resolutions for U.S. policymakers as they relate to critical and strategic metals and minerals.
- Improve the United States regulatory framework as it relates to mining without compromising environmental standards.To an overwhelming degree, our dependence on foreign mineral imports is self-inflicted. As American Resources Principal Daniel McGroarty points out in his latest Real Clear World column:
“It needn’t be this way. While industrialized economies like Japan, South Korea and many European nations are resource-poor in terms of their geology, the U.S. is, by any measure, remarkably resource-rich. Our American Resources Policy Network study (PDF), co-authored with Sandra Wirtz, shows that of the 46 metals we found to be “at-risk” in terms of national security and defense applications, the U.S. possesses known resources for 40.”
Creating a regulatory framework that is conducive to better harnessing our vast mineral potential should be the order of the day for 2013. The “Not in My Backyard” (NIMBY) mentality remains an obstacle here, but a serious conversation is warranted, because if we fail to mine the minerals we are blessed to have here, we have to rely on foreign imports with all the strings attached — which often come in the form of significantly less stringent environmental standards or human rights abuses in supplier nations. Leading mining nations such as Canada and Australia show that mining and environmental standards can go hand in hand.
– Undertaking a statewide assessment of strategic minerals;
– Providing incentives to develop known or highly-likely mineral occurrences;
– Improving permitting to expedite responsible projects;
– Strengthening partnerships and cooperation with other government entities, Alaska Native corporations and potential developers;
– Attracting new investment and developing new markets for Alaska’s mineral resources.
Much is at stake. In the global race for resources, the U.S. has been lagging for years. If lawmakers put some effort into it, 2013 could be the year for much-needed positive policy changes. Our strategic and economic future depends on it.