Think About It…….. August 7, 2013
As you know, President Obama and his activists have now pushed the Environmental Protection Agency to take a drastic regulatory step that could have a significant impact on the U.S. economy. It’s not the Obama blunder of prohibiting the Keystone XL pipeline or his disillusioned taxation of carbon emissions. At issue is the Pebble Mine here in Alaska that could yield more copper than has ever been found in one place anywhere in the world.
Apparently some left-wing environmental groups, like the Natural Resources Defense Fund, Earthworks and Trout Unlimited are so worried that the project might make it through the permitting process that they have pushed the EPA to stop it before it even starts. As the NRDF put it in August last year “EPA’s study (and intervention) is critically important. If left to its own devices the State of Alaska has never said no to a large mine.”
Thankfully, some liberals are voicing their opposition to the, self-imposed, new EPA pre-emptive power. The Center for American Progress, for example has come out in favor of letting permitting take place even though they have criticized the Pebble project. This is the first instance of a fissure in the unofficial anti-mining alliance that wants to see the EPA continue to acquire the vast new powers from Obama.
The irony here is that renewable-energy industries that Obama and environmentalists champion, like solar and wind, rely heavily on copper. More that three tons of copper are needed for a single industrial wind turbine. CIGS photovoltaic panels hold out the promise of efficiently capturing the suns rays with an energy conversion rate topping 20%. The “C” in CIGS stands for copper, and the “S” for selenium, 95% of which is derived as a copper byproduct. Then electric cables made of copper carry the energy generated by renewable sources to the national grid. Copper has super conductivity.
Yet to hear anti-mining activists tell it, the Pebble Mine offers none of these benefits. Just the other day, NRDC official Joel Reynolds said flatly: “We view this as one of the worst project anywhere in the world today.”
Let’s take environmentalists advice and “think globally”. How would Pebble stack up against other copper mines.
Will Pebble employ child-slaves as young as 8 to do the mining? Mines in the Congo do. Will Pebble send miners to work without respiratory equipment, wearing boots with holes that let acid rot miner’s feet? The Chinese do in Zambia. Will Pebble’s leadership be able to order local officials opposing the mine, jailed? That’s what happened in Iran. You see, they want to double their copper export by 2015.
Its easy for Joel Reynolds to protest an American mine from the NRDC’s $5 million waterfront headquarters in California. In the U.S. protesting is a career choice with leaders feted with awards and grants. Opposing a project the size of Pebble makes a great fund-raising tool. It is far more challenging and donation generating than taking on African warlords or Chinese officials.
With the EPA reinterpreting existing law- Section 404 of the Clean Water Act- and granting itself unilateral authority to stop the permitting process before it even begins, Pebble Mine won’t be the only project in its crosshairs, and copper won’t be the only resource.
President Obama recently said that we must weigh the opportunity cost of not building the Keystone XL pipeline. The same logic applies to the project at Pebble Mine…and the President and the EPA permitting process is the only place to do that.
Think About It! John C. Davis 8-7-13