Non-Fuel Policy Issues

Hibbard, Walter R. Jr. ; Vogely, William A.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1985
INTRODUCTION Volatile markets and pricing, increasing imports, constraining but effective laws related to the environment, health and safety and price controls lead to concerns which generated pious laws stating non-fuel policy and authorizing studies but resulting in ineffective implementation. Several commissions, reports by the Secretary of Interior and even the President have led to many recommendations but little or no action. No single comprehensive policy could solve problems which are diverse, commodity specific and not categorizable (Landsberg 1982, 1983). Thirteen laws administered by 27 agencies regulate or affect minerals and materials. Political instability created by communist regimes in Southern and Central Africa jeopardized sources of critical imported materials. This situation led to a Resource War mentality. It was feared that the U.S.S.R. was seeking to control this area and exclude the United States from resources (Vogely, 1980). The success of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries with a petroleum cartel led to fears of an Organization of Minerals Exporting Countries which might create more cartels and/or make the existing ones more effective. Economic needs of developing countries required export to maintain employment and balance of payments have led to world surpluses, weak markets, low prices, and large loans from the World Bank which have under- mined U.S. industry (Landsberg, 1982a). Un- cooperative environmental laws, obsolete facilities and non-competitive costs have led to shipping U .S. ores to other countries for processing into ingot and bars which are imported back to the United States. Yet massive internal turmoil has interrupted supplies, and led to un- certain availability and higher prices. This situation could happen again. Included in this category of critical materials with uncertain sources are metals required in the manufacture of military aircraft, which has led to concern regarding the defense industry base (Morgan 1983). Remedies have been proposed which include: updated stock piles, material substitution, international cooperation and coordination, foreign policy aimed at resolving racial and national stresses in South and Central Africa, relaxing U.S. environmental and public land regulations and action under the Defense Production Act (Goth 1982). The President's report (1983) to Congress has stated a national materials policy which recognizes: that materials play a critical role in our economy, defense, and standard of living; that public lands contain a vast untapped mineral wealth; that the role of government is to identify mineral issues and act on them; and that there is a need for long term high potential pay off research (Bureau of Mines 1983). There is a serious question as to whether or not a comprehensive national mining, minerals, and materials policy is feasible let alone necessary. One solution is to abandon the attempt at comprehensiveness and to target specific is- sues with realistic policies (Comptroller General 1979). In the following sections, the major studies of the 1970s will be reviewed, major issues yet to be faced will be identified, the principles involved in these resolutions will be reviewed,
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