Erin McKittrick, via Wikimedia Commons

The United States is in a race for strategic mineral supremacy. Many of the essential minerals involved in the design of computer components vital to the nation’s defenses are found, ever increasingly, overseas. And that, during a time of conflict, would leave America in an untenable position.

Just as both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to our shores they should also place America on a course to minimize our reliance on other countries in potentially dangerous parts of the world to provide us with the strategic resources needed to keep the economy flowing and our defenses strong.

The opening of Alaska’s Pebble Mine, which analysts believe may be one of the richest sources of gold and copper remaining untapped anywhere in the world, would significantly reduce the nation’s need to import certain vital minerals. It’s in the final stage of the permitting process and, since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently gave it a positive environmental review, there should be nothing in the way of its beginning to operate save for a few final, minor bureaucratic hurdles.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. America’s so-called “green” organizations, which oppose the expansion of U.S. development of indigenous fossil fuel resources like oil and natural gas are equally bent on bringing the once robust mining industry to heel. Through their efforts they’ve managed to elevate the possibility of damage to the “native” salmon population to a level that’s getting the attention of policymakers that, incredible as it seems given what’s at stake, block the Trump Administration’s “final Record of Decision” expected sometime in the next few weeks that would give Pebble Mine the green light to begin operations.

The project, just like any that come before the Army Corps of Engineers for review, has been through a well-established environmental review process. It should be given the go-ahead. For some reason, some former senior Trump officials including Nick Ayers, the former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, are reportedly engaged in efforts to stop it.

Pebble Mine would not only be a source of strategic minerals, it would provide jobs at a time when the economy needs them desperately. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that, in the last quarter for which the numbers are available, on an annualized basis nearly a third of the nation has become jobless because of the coronavirus lockdown. As the final Environmental Impact Statement compiled by the Army Corps found the concerns regarding the salmon to be baseless and pose no significant threat to its genetic diversity, the continued effort by the greens to push this line of argument is without merit.

Yet the implications of the outcome go well beyond this one project. “Pebble Mine is the poster-child of critical projects delayed by a broken permitting process,” Mike Palicz, a policy analyst with the non-profit group Americans for Tax Reform recently blogged. “The Obama Administration went as far as issuing a preemptive veto to prevent the mine from even receiving a proper environmental review. Last year, the Trump Administration righted this wrong by withdrawing Obama’s preemptive veto, allowing the project to move through the standard review process.”

That process is now nearing completion. The administration has the power to keep things on track and get the mine open. It should ignore additional calls from both environmental activists and those who pretend to be its friends for additional delays and unneeded further evaluation. The final Record of Decision, based on the Army Corps’ review, is expected to be favorable and should be allowed to stand.

Many of those who oppose the Pebble Mine project oppose all mining projects. They want the industry to go the way of the Passenger Pigeon and other extinct species. Their interests and America’s do not coincide.

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Peter Roff is affiliated with several Washington, D.C. public policy organizations and is a former U.S. News and World Report contributing editor who appears regularly as a commentator on the One America News network. He can be reached by email at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff.


  1. If you want to see some interesting information look up Molycorp. They are a company that operated a Rare Earth Mine in Mountain Pass California. These products are used in electronic components. The two major providers were Molycorp and a mine in Mongolia as in Red China. Molycorp did a large improvement to their operation and took on a lot of debt. The Chinese cut the price of their products and drove Molycorp bankrupt. Senator Feinstein’s husband has for years held interest in the Mongolian operation. Also the senator insisted on forming a huge National Park in California that makes it very tough to get a permit for new mines. You’ll find that Molycorps assets were bought for pennies on the dollar by a Chinese group.

    1. Wasn’t MolyCorp shut down finally because of the “Western Desert Tortoise” as an endangered Species?

      The only difference between the Eastern and Western Desert Tortoises is the Colorado River.
      DNA is Identical, but there isn’t as many west of the River.

      My solution at the time for MolyCorp was to trap few hundred Eastern and relocate them at night.

      Since the DNA is identical, the loons would not be able to prove any relocation happened.

  2. Looks like we’re back on the “double breasted mattress whacker” dilemma. We have the conservationists (who can only say NO) versus the “good of the Nation”. The BIG problem facing the “unbiased” reviewer is the “what if” scenario. It is my personal belief that you should always be awarded the opportunity to fail — without rancor. We have all seen projects held up for years (or forever) by unfounded pessimism. What is so bad about an “in process” review AFTER the project has an opportunity to proceed? If the result is as bad as the environmentalists predict, “shut’er down”. If, however, the results verify the initial ‘corp’ report, we have lost nothing.

  3. …strategic mineral supremacy? Ooooo, Ahhhh, Scary!


  4. How ironic….

    Bristol Bay, one of the world’s most productive wild salmon strongholds that supports a $1.5 billion commercial and sport fishery was not mentioned once in the article.

    Also ignored….

    If built, Pebble would be the largest mine in North America. The Pebble deposit is a massive storehouse of gold, copper and molybdenum, located in the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers, two of the eight major rivers that feed Bristol Bay. If built, Pebble would be one of the largest mines in the world. Because of its size, geochemistry and location, Pebble runs a high risk of polluting Bristol Bay.
    14,000 fishing related jobs and the Salmon industry must not be wiped out by this mine that will employ a couple thousand, if that.

    1. specifically what part of the FEIS do you think is inadequate? You do know it’s on state land set aside FOR mineral exploration, right?

      1. A Feis or Fèis is a traditional Gaelic arts and culture festival. 

         …what part of the FEIS do you think is inadequate?

        Not enough beer!

      2. The final environmental impact statement makes a mockery of the National Environmental Policy Act, ignoring a broad consensus of condemnation.
        nrdcactionfund. org/the-army-corps-of-engineers-environmental-analysis-for-alaskas-pebble-mine-is-fatally-flawed/

        Hopes were not high for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Pebble Mine near Alaska’s Bristol Bay. An earlier draft was called an “abomination,” and, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior, “so inadequate that it precludes meaningful analysis.” So, when the Corps released its final EIS last week, no one was surprised when it turned out to be, well…an abomination so inadequate that it precludes meaningful analysis.

        For those who haven’t been following, Pebble Mine is a proposal to gouge a one-square-mile pit in the headwaters of the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery, extract copper and gold to enrich the project’s Canadian owner, and then leave the surrounding Indigenous communities with 10 billion tons of toxic waste, to be contained behind 545-foot-tall earthen dams in a seismically active region—forever. What could possibly go wrong?

        Nothing, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps’ EIS, a requirement under the National Environmental Policy Act, simply assumes that the earthen dams can be engineered to last an eternity without risk of containment failure. It makes that assumption despite the fact that such dams often rupture—and, as recently as 2015, rupture catastrophically. For some reason, the Army Corps’ fails to analyze that possibility for Pebble Mine.

        There are even larger issues with the EIS. The plan being analyzed is much smaller than what the mining company actually plans to execute. This, of course, makes the mine seem safer than it actually is and minimizes what potential impacts must be disclosed and addressed. The Army Corps also made some significant changes to the proposal after the public comment period ended, including rerouting its 80-mile transportation and infrastructure corridor, which puts the entire process on shaky legal ground. Oh, and the mine’s new plan also relies on access to land that the current landowners refuse to grant.

        1. Do you live in that area? Do you really think that anything the environmentalists do as research on this mine is NOT BIASED? This reminds of the same argument brought from these greenie groups putting out disinformation on the Oil pipelines, saying….it will decimate the Caribou herds by disrupting the annual migration etc. which turned out to be insanely untrue.
          Do I believe the Army Corp of Engineers said that earthen dams would never fail…..No I think your statement is biased on the subject and distorted to make your point. If green lobby acted responsibly instead like rabid zealots perhaps their information Would be more respected by those who support the mine project.
          There is no guarantee 100% that everything in the Pebble Mine will perfect, there is also no absolute indication that there will be failure.
          If the green lobby had as much money and sway as they presently have there would never have been an oil pipeline built.

    2. “As the final Environmental Impact Statement compiled by the Army Corps found the concerns regarding the salmon to be baseless and pose no significant threat to its genetic diversity”

    1. With how you think I can see why Seattle is such a mess. Please never move to other parts of the country and screw it up like you have where you live.

  5. This mine is wrong, wrong, wrong. This s pristine wilderness area unequaled anywhere else in the U. S. Besides being an open pit mine, it would require massive infrastructure to run that would forever alter the area. I am for exploiting mineral resources when it make sense, but this doesn’t. The salmon issue is a major deal breaker in and of itself, but the total destruction of an ecosystem is a nonstarter. I have lived in Alaska and have seen the Berkley Pit copper pit mine in Butte, MT and would hate to see such a wart on our planet.

      1. I noticed the excellent method of using ‘dreams’ to lighten the ego hurt instead of the normal TEMPER TANTRUMS…

        Well Done

    1. Having lived in Montana and my husband being from there I can say Montanans hate people like you. People want to make the whole state a national park so they can visit and be impressed. People live there and need jobs things can be done properly. It usually comes from people who have messed up their own state.

      1. Alaskans own our minerals rights. Because of that we have our permanent fund, if the liberals wilL keep their hands off it.

        1. I know I read some where where the Alaskan people get money from our government for using their land. It was on some show where the people were talking about when their next checks would arrive, These were teens.

    2. The center of downtown Los Angeles was once “pristine wilderness.” So was the entire city of Chicago. It’s a shopworn argument that holds no meaning. The Army Corps evaluation says the mine won’t upset the ecosystem never mind destroy it. Using lies and fear to stop a project that will create tens of thousands of jobs through the entire economy and protect U.S. national security is disgraceful.

    3. Without Salmon hatcheries the salmon might possibly be fished out long ago by the locals for both commercial and personal use.
      Interesting that those who live on the river and run fish wheels, feed huge portion of the large take of salmon to their dogs.

      Alaska has been very good at taking care of environment while taking its natural resources. Usebeli coal mine, a type of open mining, is a great example of the reforestation they do to return mined area back to its natural state.

      There is lots of politics about this mine which has gotten in the way of ones ability to clearly see what’s the truth of the information. There is NOT one project in Alaska from building or widening a road, a needed bridge, or just plain old access to this vast wilderness that is not met by the green lobby law suites or all manner of negativity regarding the projects. Fact….it took 7 years in court to allow widening and straightening a dangerous road costing many lives.

      No easy answers but I find it difficult to believe the green lobby who’s main focus is to keep any human activity away from any area in Alaska.

  6. Reason to probe: Deep sea mining, Asteroid belt & the Moon.
    Aside more mines in the US, Canada alone

  7. WE could probabaly get by without developing and desecrating this amazing piece of nature. I do not believe author.

  8. Jobs, taxes, infrastructure, less dependent on foreign minerals, and years of science and research say it can be done safe. 1/2 a trillion in the ground. Now that’s stimulus!!!

    1. It is still a strategic resource when it is in the ground. We are not in a situation currently that requires us to “eat our seed corn”.

  9. Would love to know more about Nick Ayers involvement. Isn’t he prohibited from lobbying for 2 years? Has he been out that long?

  10. I agree with Bill Carroll, below. Mining, incl. for oil, always finds a way, with both accidental and designed releases, to pollute waterways. The Pacific fisheries must NOT be put at risk. If a way to mine was developed to limit hazardous runoff, maintain surface features and environment, and employ a minimum crew for longer term sustained and fully monitored operations, I would agree to it. But open pit and placer mining is just too destructive with no commitment to restoration on completion. There will always be deposits in areas too sensitive to mine. Pebble, like ANWR, is one of them. We must think long term not a quick buck.

    1. THE SAME BUNCH of environmental cry-babys declared the mine in liven good alaska was on a salmon stream, the arsenic concentration was so strong that if you pored 1/4 oz of whisky into fifty gallons of the creek water it WOULD TURN BLACK…yet they designated it a salmon habitat….

    2. Do you live in Alaska? Do you know about how our oil industry has performed or coal? Wondering because you should know, oil pipeline has done very well for 35 years, you can’t even see where most of the line is and it did not disrupt the animals as all green lobby screamed it would. Yes there’s been a couple spills, and a local fella invented a way to remove it without long term harm to environment.

  11. These communist greenies would love to give Russia or China our strategic rare earth minerals just like they gave Russia our plutonium!
    F’ the communist, mine and keep our materials at home!

  12. Trump brought the jobs back. If you listen to the numbskull idiot Biteme, he will kill jobs. Remember, It was the coon, and the cellar dweller that put on about 4000 job, and business killing regulations. Bitit can’t do anything. If you caught what butt plug Barry said the other day, Joe can screw up most things. That’s the first time black boy ever told the truth.

  13. EPA report predicts Pebble Mine could devastate Alaska salmon runs
    Author: Suzanna Caldwell Updated: September 28, 2016

    adn. com/environment/article/epa-report-concludes-pebble-mine-activity-could-devastate-alaska-salmon-runs/2014/01/15/

    The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday released its final report on the impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine, finding that the mine could have devastating environmental consequences to Southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay region and the fishery it supports.

    Jeff Frithsen, senior scientist and special projects manager at EPA office of research and development, said the footprint of the mine alone would affect 24-94 miles of streams, as well as 1,300 to 5,000 acres of wetlands. The 86 miles of roads needed for the transportation corridor would affect 64 different rivers and streams, 55 of which support salmon. Frithsen said any loss in the habitat could affect the fishery as a whole, which is considered one of the most lucrative in the world.

    According to the EPA assessment some of the other possible effects of the proposed mine could include:

    • The direct loss of up to 94 miles of salmon-supporting streams.
    • Destruction of up to 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes in the Bristol Bay region.
    • Alteration of the flows of up to 33 miles of salmon-supporting streams, likely affecting ecosystem structure and function.
    • A requirement for collection, storage, treatment and management of extensive quantities of mine waste and wastewater during mining and long after mining concludes — a time frame that could be between hundreds to thousands of years.

    1. Same arguments made for roads North and South from Anchorage. That’s why there are bridges and salmon hatcheries etc. you do know that almost the entire state is considered a wet land by EPA.


    Polluters Threaten Bristol Bay, one of the world’s most productive wild salmon strongholds with Pebble Mine Project – Deserves a Red Light

    Peter Roff, rewrite the article correctly you corporate shill!

  15. Pristine Bristol Bay?
    How can this fishery be construed as pristine when the Japanese current has been carrying significant iodine, cesium, strontium,
    & plutonium radioactive isotopes from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant into or past the bay?

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