News Story

Natural Resources the Key to Energy Security

Environmental groups and other proponents of shifting to renewable energy to power our factories, heat our homes and fuel our vehicles are often the same groups that stand in the way of natural resource development. They don't realize you cannot have one without the other. An article in Sunday's edition of the Detroit Free Press describes how the fledgling alternative energy industry in Michigan is being thwarted by China's control of 90 percent of the world's production of rare earth elements. The production of solar panels and wind turbines requires the use of these elements. According to the Free Press, China's hoarding of rare earth elements caused MasTech to stop production of wind turbines for 10 weeks this past summer at its plant in Manistee because it could not secure a reliable supply of neodymium magnets.

It is easy to blame China for not sharing its production of rare earth elements with the rest of the world. China should not be faulted, however, as it is merely looking after its own interests. The fault lays with over-regulation and anti-natural resource development policies in America. The United States has 15 percent of the earth's known rare earth elements located within our borders. Our political leaders have decided that we should preserve and not responsibly develop these deposits, leaving that messy business to other countries.

It's unfortunate that the most powerful nation in the world should go crying to the World Trade Organization to require China to share its rare earth elements with us when we refuse to develop our own deposits.

The national security and economic well being of America depends on our ability to responsibly use the abundant natural resources we have been blessed with. Michigan has abundant forests, minerals, fresh water and oil and gas reserves. Michigan once served as the "arsenal of democracy" with its industrial might. The state can once again contribute to the national security of America with its storehouse of natural resources, but only if state leaders view those resources as assets to be responsibly developed rather than liabilities to be preserved.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.