The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

We can all look forward to a bright 2023

Every once in a while, the federal government becomes high-centered, as it now appears to be; allowing states to take lead North of 60 Mining News – January 6, 2023

At long last the new year is here! Behind us are the floods, blizzards, pandemics, elections, and the vast array of distractions that have clouded our skies. It is time to get down to business.

First, the good news – we won't have another election for about 22 months. In addition, the Congress of the United States is in a state of equipoise. The House has a Republican majority, and the House controls the national purse strings; so federal spending hopefully will be under control.

The U.S. Senate, the world's most powerful deliberative body, has such a slim Democratic majority that most partisan legislation is guaranteed to be deliberated to death.

In this context, the Executive Branch will have little choice but to work with the tools handed down during the last Congressional session. A New Year's resolution that President Biden may wish to consider is finding a way to cause his bureaucracy to work in harmony with the needs of the nation.

I know that Alaska is a long way from the District of Columbia; however, when the President peers over the Potomac, he should bear in mind that there are other people out there besides surfers on the left coast.

Mr. Biden wants to be the leader of the third most populous nation in the world. That requires him to recognize that the land between the Alleghenies and the Cascades is filled with industrious people who deliver the bulk of commodities to the tables and skyscrapers of the NGOs and the CEOs who command his attention.

Perhaps some folks will remember that the last President (whose name shall never be spoken) stirred the political pot by persuading innumerable federal bureaucrats that their personal biases were not integral to their job descriptions.

Characteristically, he brought a blunderbuss to a gunfight when a sniper scope would have served us all better. Nonetheless, the administrative state was pared down a little, and the inspiration for judicial activism has been dampened ever so slightly.

In brief, the federal ship of state is temporarily in irons.

That means that the ball is in the states' court.

If our federal system comprises 50 laboratories of democracy, then there has never been a better time for our 50 governors to step up to the plate.

In Alaska, we have technically shed partisanship by embracing ranked-choice elections. As screwy as that system may be, it represents an opportunity for our legislature and our governor to actually bring the state together on a long list of diverse topics.

Alaska has been engaged forever in a pitched battle with the folks in DC when it comes to resource development.

By divine action, we have the resources the nation (and the world) needs to keep abreast of the demands of technology. By the Statehood Act, as well as ANCSA and ANILCA, we have the legal authority to develop the resources within our boundaries. By the perspicacity of our leaders and the perspicuity of our scientists and engineers, we have the wherewithal to develop our minerals in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

All that remains is to find the courage to take the first step.

It is noteworthy that the dominant sociological concept for 2023 is likely to be compliance with ESG – environmental, social and governance – standards. ESG requires companies to be sensitive to their impacts internally, locally, and globally.

Alaska's mining industry has been pursuing ESG principles for decades. Essentially, we have been the leaders in the field.

Although it is popular to throw sticks and stones at the miners, there are very few incidents in the modern history of Alaska mining where a successful operation has been insensitive to the health, safety, and well-being of the employees, the community and the state have been challenged.

While it is difficult to control the downstream uses of mineral production after it has been released to the marketplace, most of our mineral production, be it gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, or coal, is destined to pass to benign applications.

Alaska is on the brink of a rare opportunity. We have the tools, the team, and the techniques to step forward and demonstrate to the nabobs of negativity that we can fulfill the mutual promises of January 3, 1959, our 64th anniversary.


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