Mining’s contribution to economic recovery absent from State of the Union
In the State of the Union address on February 12, president Obama called for a variety of energy initiatives including expedited oil and gas permitting and increased funding for infrastructure. In a nod to the beleaguered aggregates industry, Obama proposed a "Fix-It-First" program to address infrastructure repairs nationwide, citing nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. He also suggested a "Partnership to Rebuild America" that would "attract private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children."
In praising the natural gas boom, Obama said, "That's why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits," Obama said. "That's got to be part of an all-of-the-above plan.” Coal has been absent from much of the discussion of “all of the above” energy policy and expedited mine permitting on federal lands was not mentioned in his plea for Congress to allow for streamlined permitting of future oil and gas projects.
Responding to the State of the Union address, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) argued that investing primarily in traditional sources of energy domestically would help reduce the country's dependence on foreign fuel supplies -- a view largely opposed by the administration. Rubio agreed with Obama that backing wind and solar projects would be beneficial to a certain degree, yet insisted that an ample abundance of fossil fuels and minerals throughout the United States should be utilized first. "God blessed us with abundant coal, oil and natural gas," Rubio said. "It will create middle-class jobs and it will help bring manufacturing back from places like China. ... If we can grow our energy industry, it'll make us energy independent."
“Last nights’ State of the Union address continued to demonstrate why the mining community must continue to engage law makers about the importance of mining, the contribution of minerals to the GDP, and the value mining brings to high-quality, high-paying jobs in this country," said SME Executive Director David Kanagy. "Mining is where civilization begins and to sustain our socio-economic life that we all enjoy, pro-mining legislation will be required to encourage that investments in mining are made in this country . . . and that really won’t cost the federal government one dime!”