An Alaskan Mining Project: One Example of How Environmental Regulations are Strangling the U.S. Economy

Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government notes here that one of the reasons the American economy is stuck in neutral is that investors in new projects are being stymied by environmental regulations. The example he gives is a huge proposed new copper and gold mine in Alaska called the Pebble Project that is being studied to death.

The co-owners of the Pebble Project are a British and a Canadian company. They want to invest billions of dollars in a mine that would probably create close to a thousand high-paying jobs for at least fifty years. It would also add tens of billions of dollars to the American economy and pay billions of dollars in royalties to the State of Alaska, which owns the land and subsurface rights.

The Pebble Project’s owners have reportedly already spent $125 million on the environmental research reports required to open the mine. But opponents have petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to deny a Clean Water Act permit for the mine before the owners have even applied for an operating permit. Incredibly, the EPA is seriously considering this outrageous petition. And even more outrageously, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson this spring attended and spoke at a reception for opponents of the mine, which was hosted in the Supreme Court by retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor!

It’s not just the Pebble Project in Alaska. Daniel McGroarty of the American Resources Policy Network recently testified before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources that the U. S. is ranked last among 25 nations surveyed for the length of its permitting process in an annual survey of mining investment opportunities. Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association, testified at the same hearing that U. S. mineral production is far below its potential because of over-regulation and federal land lock-ups.

And it’s not just mining. This is the kind of regulatory mischief that the Obama administration’s EPA is creating to stifle investment in all manufacturing and natural resource production industries. America once had the freest economy and most enterprising people in the world. It can regain that status, but not until we do something about regulatory overkill.