Opposition to Critical Minerals Policy Act is misguided – by Colin T. Hayes (Alaska Journal of Commerce – January 9, 2014)


Colin T. Hayes is an executive vice president at McBee Strategic Consulting and formerly served as senior professional staff to Sen. Lisa Murkowski on the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources.

As someone deeply familiar with Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s leadership on the “Critical Minerals Policy Act,” John Kemp’s Dec. 9 Reuters column criticizing the bill struck me as a cynically misguided reaction to her important work.

Sen. Murkowski introduced the legislation in order to, as she put it, “keep the United States competitive and begin the process of modernizing our federal mineral policies.” This is a laudable goal and an important process, particularly as our foreign reliance increases for materials needed to build semiconductors, skyscrapers, and everything in between.

In Kemp’s view, however, the bill “deserves to die” because it would authorize new federal funding that he views as a sop to “special interests.” With all due respect, he’s wrong.

Murkowski’s legislation is one of the few examples of real bipartisan cooperation amid the dysfunction of Washington, having attracted nine Republican and nine Democrat co-sponsors.

The Critical Minerals Policy Act takes commonsense steps to facilitate increased mineral production here at home. Importantly, the bill authorizes funding to improve the United States’ permitting process, which industry analysts at Behre Dolbear have ranked as worst in the world at getting applicants a timely “yes” or “no” response.

Such delays strand capital and have contributed to an ongoing decline in America’s share of private investment in exploration, which dropped from 10 percent in 2000 to 7 percent in 2013 according to the Metals Economics Group. In response, the bill brings some needed accountability and resources to the federal agencies considering these permit applications.

For the rest of this column, click here: http://www.alaskajournal.com/Alaska-Journal-of-Commerce/January-Issue-2-2014/GUEST-COMMENTARY-Opposition-to-Critical-Minerals-Policy-Act-is-misguided/