Why the U.S. Needs Mine Permitting Reform
May 23, 2023
Nearly two decades ago, the U.S. attracted almost 20 percent of t...
The taboo against hard-rock mining in the United States is nonsensical and should be abandoned. Instead, America should embrace a far wiser policy of ensuring greater access to minerals on our public lands, since it’s in our national and economic interest. This would help reduce our heavy dependence on foreign nations for minerals that are needed in the production of advanced weapons systems and a multitude of consumer technologies.
Environmentalists, along with some of their friends in Congress, remain the biggest opponents of domestic mining, but ironically they should be among its biggest cheerleaders. Among the metals that must be imported from abroad in growing amounts is copper, which is used in wind turbines, batteries for electric vehicles, and solar panels. But growing use of EVs and renewable energy systems will require higher volumes of copper, lithium and other materials. These could be extracted profitably in the United States if not for restrictive and redundant environmental regulations.
Among the critical metals which are on federally-owned public lands often beyond the reach of mining companies include manganese, cobalt, nickel, graphite, aluminum, and several rare earths. In fact, the U.S. is 100% import-reliant for 18 minerals – 14 of which have been deemed “critical” by the departments of defense or interior. These minerals have numerous broad applications across our economy, and especially the energy sector. Given this level of dependence, reliance on foreign producers is an enormously short-sighted and dangerous policy.