by Jonathan Decker
The Trump White House has poured much energy into making America more economically competitive with China. Yet while much of these efforts have been directed at changing China’s domestic policies from abroad, one secret for improving American competitiveness is lying right under our feet: harnessing America’s mineral resources.
A new report authored by Dr. Ned Mamula, a geologist and author (along with Ann Bridges) of the book Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence, makes the compelling case for an ‘America First’ mining policy to strengthen America’s economic and national security interests.
The report notes that while America led the world in mineral output in 1990, today we largely rely on foreign countries. This includes a 100-percent reliance on imports for 17 rare earth minerals and 20 other critical minerals — from countries including China and Russia. Rare and critical earth minerals are extraordinarily important for countries to possess, as they play a role in the function of everything from smartphones to TVs to vital military technologies.
Although America is blessed with an abundance of mineral resources — including an estimated $6 trillion worth still in the ground — radical environmentalists have prevented mining on federal lands at great detriment to our economy as well as our national security. Our failure to harness the natural resources we have has forced us to rely solely on others to obtain them. This could one day hamper our ability to produce electronics or cause the price of consumer goods to increase.
The report recommends a three-pronged solution to addressing America’s mineral needs:
1) Immediately streamline the environmental permitting process, as other major mining countries, like Canada and Australia, have done.
2) Provide better access to public lands that contain known mineral deposits or that are geologically likely to host mineral deposits.
3) Allow mapping of our public lands so that we know how large mineral deposits are and where they are located.
Should the Trump administration adopt a pro-mining agenda, the report estimates we could boost economic growth by “$50 to 100 billion” every year and create thousands of new jobs. The US has more rare earth minerals than both Russia and China combined — we just need to simplify the process to allow the safe extraction of these resources to take place.
Dr. Mamula noted, “Just as the fracking boom simultaneously created six-figure jobs for Americans and reduced our reliance on foreign dictators for energy, America is well positioned for a mining boom.” If President Trump wants to make America more competitive with China — and if the Left is as paranoid of Russian influence as they claim — both sides should find agreement on the need to harness more of America’s mineral resources.
This is a six-trillion-dollar idea — let’s get digging!