- - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

William Perry Pendley’s Nov. 1 op-ed highlights a little-known but major problem associated with the U.S. government’s ownership of one-third of the nation’s land base, located mostly in the western United States (“The threats to America’s minerals,” Web). These western lands still contain vast mineral resources needed by our modern high-technology society and economy — for everything from medical devices to computers, electronics, power generation, manufacturing, construction, transportation and the defense industries.

These minerals include oil, gas, coal, gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, uranium, platinum, palladium, molybdenum, and the rare-earth minerals found in rural Wyoming, which Mr. Pendley highlights in his piece. The federal land-management agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management are directed by law to manage the federal public lands to allow for multiple uses, including mineral development, but they treat these minerals and the companies that seek to develop them with policies that range from bureaucratic neglect to overt hostility.

The companies that invest large amounts of capital to develop these minerals don’t seek subsidies, but they do want government policies that don’t impede environmentally sound and responsible development. The citizens and businesses of the United States will continue to consume these minerals in vast quantities. The central question remains whether U.S. government policies will continue to redirect to other, more receptive nations multi-billion-dollar mineral-development investments and the good-paying jobs associated with them.

R. TIMOTHY MCCRUM

Clifton, Va.

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