- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2011

David Holt pointed out in “Beltway politics is road to energy poverty” (Commentary, Monday), “Now is the time to leverage America’s wealth of natural resources to improve the direction of our national energy policy.” It is not only our national energy policy that must be improved, but our policy relating to the exploration and production of hard minerals from the federal estate.

Over the past 50 years, denial of access to potentially productive lands through outright withdrawal, blanket application of various federal land policy acts or other laws aimed at protecting something coveted by feckless greens have become prime factors in our increased reliance on imported minerals and materials - critical and strategic goods that were formerly produced in our own secure backyard by American workers.

The recent concern about export restrictions of Chinese rare earth elements is a perfect example of the folly of closing off areas to exploration for minerals, energy and raw materials that may be needed in the event of a national emergency. Rare earths, for example, are vital elemental components of solar, wind and electronic systems as well as dozens of key national defense systems. Proponents of ever-expanding wilderness protection and land access denial though utopian laws and bureaucratic overreach are apparently unconcerned that we must import large quantities of these rare earths from China. Other important mineral materials such as manganese, tantalum, cobalt, zinc, vanadium, tungsten must also be imported.

We could produce those minerals here once again if our scientists were allowed the time and access to explore for them. Like it or not, our manufacturing sector relies upon a secure, steady stream of hard mineral materials to provide much-needed jobs and products for domestic consumption and trade as well as for national defense.

Deliberate, coercive efforts to transform America into some sort of pluralistic commonwealth or dystopia incapable of defending itself -or even mustering enough energy to keep the lights on - will surely fail. So will efforts to turn America into a pristine Disney World-like eco-park and playground for the ruling class in the United Nations.

JOHN LUCAS

Vienna, Va.