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The Critical Minerals Debate: Silencing Community Voices to Ease International Markets

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By Aaron Mintzes

September 14, 2012

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is set to consider rare earth mineral legislation possibly as soon as this month. The bill, S. 1113, the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2012, resulted from careful negotiations between the committee’s chairman and ranking member incorporating many ideas offered by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Senator Mark Udall (D-CO). Bipartisanship is at a premium in this town and the value of producing sensible and balanced policy is worth more than the minerals this bill intends to promote.

S. 1113 directs the Secretary of Interior to designate 10 critical minerals and develop and implement a series of studies and comprehensive regulatory reviews related to every aspect of the public input and environmental permitting process. This includes requiring the Secretary to create specific performance metrics designed to measure reductions in permit times for each stage of critical mineral mining operations. Studies are good. And government efficiency is too. The problem is that heavy-handed mandated reductions in permit approval times will reduce the ability of communities impacted by mining to voice their concerns.

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Tagged with: critical minerals, strategic minerals, rare earth, murkowski, s.1113,


Citizens United: Enviros Target the Oil-agarchy

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By Aaron Mintzes

August 31, 2012

We all know the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission already has and will continue to have a dramatic effect on our elections. Even if we don’t follow politics but live in any swing state, we know the effect well: more political ads, more vitriol, more mud and negativity, less disclosure, accountability, and honesty. Citizens United tells us that corporations are people and money is speech.

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Tagged with: citizen united, democracy, elections


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