I am going to address the elephant in the room. We have a supply chain problem. You all have experienced it in one way or the other. What is happening is just the beginning. We are dependent on other sources outside of this country – some of which are sworn enemies of the U.S. – for the minerals that make our daily lives possible. It is not just whether a car dealership can deliver your next car or the chips and batteries that go into your cell phones – it is our national defense and sovereignty that is at stake.
How did we get here? This country came back from WWII ready to produce as much as we could to help the world rebuild. And we did it. With American ingenuity and our work ethic, we made our country indispensable to the world. Slowly over time, we have traded in our competitive advantage.
People want green technology. Where does it come from? The answer is that all solutions to fossil fuel consumption require a huge amount of mined materials. Take copper for example – a building block for solar, wind, and geothermal power production. It is also essential to the production of electric vehicles. We have plenty of it in Arizona alone – enough to not only meet domestic demands, but also to export to other countries.
Yet again and again, environmental groups are suing and stopping development at any cost. We have seen this recently on Hudbay’s proposed mine outside of Tucson. This is the largest shovel-ready project in southern Arizona. The company has invested hundreds of millions of dollars and proposed countless conservation measures to develop the mine, but at every step these projects face litigation.
Speaking of cost: Did you know that regardless of the outcome of their cases, they stick the taxpayer with the bill? It’s true. All of us are on the hook for these lawsuits regardless of the outcome.
The irony of it is that none of these actions negate the need for mined materials. It just shifts the source to somewhere else. Depending on where it comes from, that can come with questions about environmental impacts and human rights. And even when it doesn’t, offshoring means shipping long distances and that comes with an impact.
This costs American jobs, compromises our domestic security, and cancels out tax revenues that fund schools, roads, and other programs. It’s time for us to call this what it is: hypocrisy.
Mignonne Hollis is executive director, Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation.