Death by a thousand paper cuts
William Perry Pendley, a lawyer, is president of Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver and author of “Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s Battle with Environmental Extremists and Why It Matters Today” (Regnery, 2013).
Much has been written about the impossibility of developing America’s rich natural resources given the opposition of the Obama administration, radical environmentalists and actively empathetic judges; it has been a horror show for oil pipelines, energy on federal lands and coal anywhere.
What happens, however, when the minerals at issue are deemed critical to national defense, key to green technology innovation and crucial to contesting Chinese combativeness and therefore: the stars align, the White House gives its support and environmental groups eschew the courthouse? Sadly, as an essential rare earth elements mine in Wyoming reveals: death by a thousand bureaucratic paper cuts.
In 1980, Congressman Jim Santini, Nevada Democrat, warned of America’s risky reliance for strategic and critical minerals on foreign sources, primarily Africa. Gov. Ronald Reagan, in his 1977 radio address, decried a “campaign” by the Soviet Union and Cuba “to achieve strategic dominance over Africa with all its mineral riches.”