EDITOR: | August 16th, 2013 | 9 Comments

Testimony before U.S. House questions EPA’s latest action on supply of critical materials

| August 16, 2013 | 9 Comments

McGroarty-WesloskyAugust 16, 2013 — Tracy Weslosky, Publisher of InvestorIntel interviews Daniel (Dan) McGroarty, Founder and President of Carmot Strategic Consultants in Washington, DC, and Founder and President of the American Resources Policy Network; an expert-led organization focused on U.S. domestic development of resources and the dangers of foreign dependency. Dan is the foremost leader in the rare earths and critical materials industry for testifying and advising the U.S. government; informing federal leaders and lawmakers on what rare earths and critical materials are and the pressing need for U.S. self-sustainability (for National Security and manufacturing). Dan discusses his recent testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Science, Space and Technology with Tracy and, more specifically, the actions the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is advancing with regards to a proposed copper mine in Alaska. But, as Dan explains, the real issue doesn’t end with a proposed copper mine in Alaska…

Dan starts: “We were looking at the actions the EPA may be taking to slow down, or even stop, a copper mine in Alaska. The question is whether the EPA is taking unto itself new, unilateral powers that will make our permitting process in the U.S. even longer than it is already. The EPA is being encouraged by some outside groups — anti-mining pressure groups — to use its (Section) 404 (Veto) Authority under the Clean Water Act and interpret that as allowing the EPA to stop a mining project before it even enters the permitting process. Without a mine plan even being presented, the EPA can decide a proposed mine is not suitable to go into the permitting process, which averages 7 to 10 years. That means the EPA would be making the decision without an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), without the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act of 1969) process, which, typically, the environmental groups support and push for. This is very different and very dramatic and we’ll have to see if this is something that mining companies are going to have to put on the screen and reckon with. It may be a copper mine in Alaska this time, but the EPA is an authority that if it uses this (veto power) once, they’re going to come back to it again and again.”

 “Regarding rare earths and other critical metals, it’s going to require a constant dialogue to make it clear to the other U.S. government agencies and work with directly with them so those agencies understand the criticality of these metals. The Department of Energy understands this. The Department of Defense is ‘understanding’ this… and yet there’s another government agency, which may be impeding these mines from going through the development stage. The U.S. government is all over the place right now. It is a very, very unsettled situation for companies trying to make it through. We have to sort that out. There has to be a clean path forward.” 

Finally Dan discusses his think tank, American Resource Policy Network (Tracy Weslosky is a participating expert in the American Resource Policy Network); the need for resource security in the United States; and to, “publicize both America’s dependence on foreign sources for critical materials and the path to reducing that dependence, if we rationally develop mining projects.”

Aside from writing regularly for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Politico, Dan has presented at numerous metals conferences in the U.S., Canada and China on rare earths, and critical and strategic metals, and served as President and Director on the board of U.S. Rare Earths. Dan is a Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and has served as a Special Assistant to the President of the United States and as a presidential appointee to two Secretaries of Defense.

Tracy Weslosky


Tracy Weslosky is the CEO for InvestorIntel Corp. and founder of InvestorIntel.com, a trusted source of online market information for investors in the capital markets, ... <Read more about Tracy Weslosky>

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  • tek

    90% of Alaskans agreed with the EPA. They’ll get another chance to vote on it in 2014.

    August 19, 2013 - 10:16 AM

  • GoBucks

    So, Tek, you’re saying that 90% of Alaskans think it’s OK for the EPA to circumvent the law and simply wave a majesterial hand and kibosh the project?

    Say it ain’t so!!!

    August 20, 2013 - 12:02 PM

  • tek
    August 21, 2013 - 6:57 PM

  • GoBucks

    “It was enacted in 1969 precisely to ensure that projects like the one pursued by Shively cannot be approved without environmental review…”.

    But the agency itself is moving past this to putting the kibosh on projects WITHOUT the aforementioned review.

    Thanks for the clarification.

    August 22, 2013 - 12:54 PM

  • tek

    To wit(less): It is now quite obvious that rather than a matter of interpretation, you simply lack the ability to comprehend.

    (quote from the FOX text)
    “Here, the EPA’s own multi-year, comprehensive scientific risk assessment has documented that adverse effects – even catastrophic effects — are foreseeable if large-scale mining is allowed in the sensitive, hydrologically-complex watershed that feeds Bristol Bay.

    There is nothing in NEPA that is even arguably inconsistent with this Clean Water Act authority.

    To be sure, EPA has rarely used section 404(c). Indeed, in the 40-year history of the Clean Water Act, the agency has taken action based on it only a dozen times. EPA has viewed it as extraordinary — applicable only in the most compelling circumstances, where the risk of harm is significant and beyond reasonable doubt. And there is every reason to expect the agency to apply a similarly strict standard today.

    Shively’s histrionic claim that “tens of thousands of other projects” will be put at risk by EPA action on Pebble Mine is, once again, self-serving fiction.

    If there is a clearer case than this one for use of the agency’s authority to protect the resources enumerated by Congress – including, most particularly, local fisheries – it has never been presented.”

    Moreover, the investors saw this coming long ago , and promptly vacated the stock. Are you decrying their decision, or simply arguing for the sake of argument? There’s no meat here, and definitely no profit. I”ll say no more.

    August 22, 2013 - 8:20 PM

  • Daniel McGroarty

    Glad to see my interview with Tracy Weslosky triggered a bit of back and forth on an issue that is truly critical to the U.S.’s ability to pursue a sensible resource development strategy — in a world where resource access will increasingly be used as a weapon.
    On the substance of the comments: Whatever it is that 90% of the people oppose, I’m not persuaded that we ought to determine what passes for “sound science” via head-counts or poll tallies. Publioc comment is a critical part of the process, but expert scientific and technical opinion must be weighed — and that can only happen when a specific mine plan is presented for review.

    And in spite of the long quotation from NRDC’s Joel Reynolds’ oped, EPA’s claim of pre-emptive authority is not just unusual — but unprecedented. I suspect the NRDC and others urging EPA to invent a veto power know this, which is why they’re so anxious the EPA do so now.

    I’ll repeat: This time, Pebble is the mine and copper is the metal. But once precedent has been set, there will be more mines and more metals subject to this unilateral administrative review, substituted by fiat for the legal process set out in NEPA. That’s why the House Sub-Committee called its hearing, in a fully legitimate exercise of its oversight powers. As Chairman Paul Broun managed to pin down, even the witness defending the EPA’s unilateral action couldn’t posit a single issue that would not be aired in the existing NEPA process. Quoting the Washington Post — in Broun’s words, “hardly regarded as a pro-mining mouthpiece” — “‘All they [the Pebble Project] want… is a fair and thorough evaluation of their claims. That is reasonable.'” To which I’ll add… under NEPA, it’s also the law.

    August 26, 2013 - 3:16 PM

  • Jim S.

    This is a great forum for intelligent debate. Thank you Dan for your contributions, very enlightening. I am thankful that the educated opinions of those like yourself are being sought by the decision makers. Let’s hope they heed the warnings.

    August 26, 2013 - 4:47 PM

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