The Corner

Regulatory Policy

The Mess That Is Our Green Policy

Pump jacks operate in front of a drilling rig in an oil field in Midland, Texas U.S. August 22, 2018. Picture taken August 22, 2018. (Nick Oxford/Reuters)

On Tuesday, I mentioned that it is likely that the Biden administration will continue misguided green policies pursued by other Democrats of heavy green subsidies and attacks on gas and oil industries, all the while the federal government will continue to subsidize state-owned and private oil and gas companies abroad.

Today, I came across this video from this brand new company Kite & Key Media, which touches on the internal conflict of the U.S. green-energy policy. This video, which is their first, is about such minerals as graphite, lithium, or manganese that are needed to produce many of the modern life products we love as well as several of the “green products” that environmentalists are so fond of.

As the video narrator explains “the greener we try to be, the more mining it requires.” He adds:

A 2017 study from the World Bank makes it clear: clean energy requires far more minerals than the fuel sources it would replace. For example, the amount of wind and solar power needed to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, would double the demand for the metals used in those technologies. But that’s nothing compared to the batteries needed to store clean power — which, under the Paris goals, would require over 1,000 percent more metals than today.

Today, these minerals are mined in many countries around the world, including some “where labor and environmental standards are somewhere between weak — and non-existent.” What’s interesting about this fact is that it’s not as if we don’t have these very same minerals here in the U.S. In fact, as I learned from the video, “as recently as 1990, the U.S. was the world’s number one producer of minerals. Today, we’re the seventh.”

This wouldn’t be a problem if the reason for our foreign sourcing of these products is that they are produced at lower costs than are possible here in the U.S. But natural foreign comparative advantage apparently is not the reason for this trade pattern. The U.S. has been made uncompetitive by massive labor, health, and climate regulations that make it impossible to open a mine or to operate one profitably in the U.S. Here is an example from the video:

Take the Kensington gold mine in Alaska, for example. It opened in 1993. Wait, scratch that. It was supposed to open in 1993. But because of the complicated regulatory process it wasn’t able to begin operations until 2010. In the 17 years it took to navigate all those regulations, the cost of building the mine increased almost 50 percent. As a result, it had to cut its production by one-third.

In other words, these rules at home play an important role in the shift to foreign minerals.

It’s hard to understand how the climate warriors justify this mess. The Biden administration has made it clear that it will force more green energy on the U.S. through the regulatory process. In doing so, it will also both be making it harder to mine these minerals here at home and it will increase the amount of mining we buy from these less than environmentally friendly countries. That, of course, will happen all the while the administration continues to insist on idiotic “made in America” requirements and to demand repatriation of our supply chains in the name of propping up manufacturing jobs and national security.

In any case, you should check out this and other videos from Kite and Key. My understanding is that the company will produce videos that cover a range of topics — everything from the future of cash to the likelihood of a supervolcano erupting in our lifetime.

They’re a non-profit. They aren’t chasing ad dollars and they set their own editorial agenda.

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