Alaska editorial: Roadless rule fix

This editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

The House voted for economic recovery in Alaska when it passed the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act recently.

The act, amended by Congressman Don Young, exempts some mining activities in national forests from the 2001 Forest Service Roadless Rule.

This is the first step in allowing new mining-related activity in the Tongass National Forest. A year ago, a federal judge canceled the Tongass exemption to the rule.

But, Alaska, particularly southern Southeast, has at least two developing mine projects. Without the exemption, mining and economic development interests are fearful of costly delays as they pursue the projects. Young’s amendment would clear the road of delays affected by the Roadless Rule.

“It’s time for us to loosen China’s stranglehold on the world rare earths market,” Young says. “Whether it’s to build computers or build defense systems, rare earth minerals are the future, and with the right regulatory environment, Alaska has the potential to be a world leader in this arena.

“My amendment is straightforward. It simply brings back a decade-old Roadless Rule exemption for several of Alaska’s highly mineralized areas, such as the Bokan Mountain project.”

The Bokan project, located near Ketchikan, would extract rare earth minerals.

The Senate should follow the House’s example, passing this act, and President Obama, if he wants to improve the economy and create jobs, ought to sign off on it.

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